Biofortification for better nutrition: developing and delivering crops with more impact
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Background: Globally, around three billion people have inadequate diets and are often malnourished. Biofortification, a nutrition-sensitive approach that aims to increase the nutritional density of staple crops, has great potential to increase the nutrient intake of rural poor, whom are often relying on subsistence farming for their food. The overall aim of this thesis was to study three key elements in the development and delivery phase of biofortified crops to improve their nutritional impact. This research focussed on 1) The effect of climate change on the nutritional quality of beans, which was assessed in field trials in Malawi. 2) The retention of minerals and phytates in different types of beans when preparing common bean recipes. 3) Cultural and sensory acceptability of orange-fleshed sweetpotatoes (OFSP) and iron beans among households with children in Malawi, which was studied using mixed methods. Malawi was chosen as a target country as it is a top priority country for the implementation of biofortified crops. Results: The field trials showed that under climate-induced drought scenarios, future bean servings will have a lower nutrition quality (esp. iron). Combining the low phytate and biofortification trait through crossbreeding could lead to a higher nutritional impact of iron beans through an increased bioavailability of iron. Considering both cultural and sensory attributes when introducing a biofortified crop can influence the acceptability of varieties and consumption amongst households with children. The invisible trait of iron beans poses challenges on recognizing and distinguishing these beans from conventional beans. Conclusions: To further improve the nutritional impact of biofortified crops the studied elements (climate change effects on nutritional quality, retention and consumer acceptability) need attention. Improving the impact of biofortified crops could be reached through further climate-proofing of bean varieties, combining the low phytic acid trait with the iron trait in developing new bean varieties, leading to higher bioavailability of iron, and studying both sensory and cultural acceptability using mixed methods in a local context.
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