A one-day workshop on ‘Marketing strategies for biofortified crops’ was organized at ICRISAT by project partner HarvestPlus India on 15 September 2017 to promote the adoption of nutrition-rich pearl millet cultivars by farmers in India. Participants, including representatives of eight seed companies, shared experiences from the field and discussed strategies for scaling up demand for biofortified crops.
Mr Binu Cherian, Country Manager, HarvestPlus, shared the status of global biofortification efforts, underlining the progress made in crop development, nutrition research, and delivery efforts. He highlighted HarvestPlus’ commitment to enhance efforts to develop biofortified cultivars of several important crops with the aim of reaching 1 billion malnourished people in Asia and Africa by 2030. He underlined the need for the private and public sectors to proactively partner to support the development of proven technologies to farmers.
Dr M Govindaraj, Senior Scientist, pearl millet breeding, ICRISAT, in his presentation on the performance of biofortified pearl millet cultivars and the latest National Family health survey data, ascribed the prevalence of anemia and stunting to declining per capita consumption of millet (<4 kg) and increased consumption of processed fine cereals and junk foods. He also presented evidence to prove no negative linkage between grain yields and biofortification.
Stakeholders also discussed the positive outcome of the national cultivar release policy on product development, which, for the first time, includes parameters for minimum levels of micronutrients in staple crops. Further, they stressed the need to work closely with the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, Government of India, for the promotion of biofortified crops through seed markets and to incentivize biofortified grains with premium prices during the initial years in order to encourage farmers and seed companies to invest in product development.
Partners also requested that ICRISAT provide them with data on the yield potential of seed parents for quick delivery of pipeline hybrids and asked scientists to share superior high-iron hybrids and parental lines in advance for test marketing. They visited biofortified pearl millet demonstration fields and selected advanced hybrids for up scaling in 2018.
The meeting concluded with discussions on product test marketing and creating consumer demand. There is also a need to work with diverse partners for policy support and to leverage existing value chains to develop sustainable markets for biofortified crops.