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Challenge

To nutritiously and sustainably feed 9 billion people by 2050 without causing additional resource depletion and damage to our planet. Healthy, diversified diets consisting of nutrient-rich sources of food, such as animal source foods, fruits, vegetables, beans and pulses need to be made available, accessible, affordable and acceptable.

Population growth is coinciding with more poorly nourished people, and related health problems. With thousands of species to choose from, and millions of varieties from within these species, there is great potential to spice up diets and improve nutrition. Yet, just three – rice, wheat and maize – provide more than 50% of the world's plant-derived calories.

Solution

Bioversity International explores how agrobiodiversity can be better used within food production systems to improve access to nutritionally-rich food sources and increase­ dietary diversity. Wild and indigenous plants, fruit trees and animal species  - often more nutritious than their better known exotic counterparts - can be combined in portfolios to provide year-round harvest of healthy, nutrient-dense foods, which fill hunger and specific nutrient gaps.


Thematic research areas

Trees for nutrition

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Orange-fleshed Fei banana, rich in vitamin A. Credit: Bioversity International/A.Vézina, courtesy of www.musarama.org

Bananas for nutrition

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Dishes prepared on site for a food fair held in the Barotse floodplain, Zambia. The food was judged in a competition for the most nutritious dish.
Credit: Bioversity International/E.Hermanowicz

Diet diversity

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Traditional Sri Lankan dishes and vegetables. Credit: Bioversity International/S.Landersz

Biodiversity for food and nutrition

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A young mother is selling her produce in the urban region of Yoff, Senegal. Credit: Sandro Bozzolo

Rural to urban agri-food chains

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Andean crops on display at a diversity fair in Peru. Credit: Bioversity International\A. Drucker

Marketing diverse species

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Highlight: A food biodiversity indicator to rule them all

Biodiversity is essential for both human nutrition and sustainable food systems. To monitor progress in achieving healthy and environmentally sustainable diets, researchers must be able to measure the direct relationship between biodiversity in the landscape and biodiversity in the diets, and subsequently diet quality. However, the indicators used so far are not validated from a nutritional point of view. 

A recent study has brought to light a much-needed and validated food biodiversity indicator capable of evaluating, for the first time, the positive correlation between agricultural biodiversity and diet quality.

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Putting vitamin A-rich bananas to the taste test

Bioversity International and partners are investigating how vitamin A-rich bananas from South Asia and the Pacific can be integrated into Eastern African diets to tackle one of the biggest health problems in the region, vitamin A deficiency. A recent study highlights taste tests and agronomic trials’ positive contributions to farmers’ high receptiveness to species from the Philippines, Papua New Guinea and Ghana.

 

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CGIAR

Bioversity International's research on nutrition is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health and is supported by CGIAR Trust Fund Donors.

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