Opportunities for biofortification of Cassava for Sub-Saharan Africa: The BioCassava Plus program
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Cassava is an important staple crop in sub-Saharan Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa produced over 117 million tons of fresh roots of cassava in 2008, of which 95% was consumed as food; the starch provides >25% of dietary energy for an estimated 200 million Africans. Frequent consumers of cassava are at greater risk for malnutrition than consumers of other diets. A nutrition survey in cassava-consuming areas of Nigeria and Kenya revealed inadequate intake of vitamin A in 83% and 41% and inadequate iron intake in 43% and 78% of pre-school-aged children. Biofortification can remediate these nutritional deficiencies and once developed through breeding and genetic engineering will be self-sustaining, but it requires a substantial initial investment in research and dissemination, it is self-sustaining. BioCassava Plus is a cassava-biofortification project at the Donald Danforth Center.