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The Potential of Integrating Provitamin A-Biofortified Maize in Smallholder Farming Systems to Reduce Malnourishment in South Africa

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Department of Crop Science, School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Private Bag X01, Scottsville 3209, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
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Faculty of Science and Agriculture, Department of Consumer Sciences, University of Zululand, KwaDlangezwa 3886, South Africa
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(4), 805; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15040805
Received: 13 February 2018 / Revised: 11 April 2018 / Accepted: 16 April 2018 / Published: 19 April 2018
Biofortification interventions have the potential to combat malnutrition. This review explored the use of provitamin A-biofortified maize (PVABM) as a vitamin A deficiency (VAD) reduction agricultural-based strategy. Maize has been identified as one of the key staple crops for biofortification to reduce hidden hunger in Africa. Most nutrition interventions have not been successful in reducing hunger because rural communities, who mainly rely on agriculture, have been indirectly excluded. The biofortification intervention proposed here aims to be an inclusive strategy, based on smallholder farming systems. Vitamin A is a micronutrient essential for growth, immune function, reproduction and vision, and its deficiency results in VAD. VAD is estimated to affect more than 250 million children in developing countries. In Africa, especially sub-Saharan Africa, maize is a staple food for rural communities, consumed by most household members. Due to carotenoids, PVABM presents an orange color. This color has been reported to lead to negative perceptions about PVABM varieties. The perceived agronomic traits of this maize by smallholder farmers have not been explored. Adoption and utilization of PVABM varieties relies on both acceptable consumer attributes and agronomic traits, including nutritional value. It is therefore important to assess farmers’ perceptions of and willingness to adopt the varieties, and the potential markets for PVABM maize. It is essential to establish on-farm trials and experiments to evaluate the response of PVABM under different climatic conditions, fertilizer levels and soils, and its overall agronomic potential. For the better integration of PVABM with smallholder farming systems, farmer training and workshops about PVABM should be part of any intervention. A holistic approach would enhance farmers’ knowledge about PVABM varieties and that their benefits out-compete other existing maize varieties. View Full-Text
Keywords: Provitamin A-biofortified maize; vitamin A deficiency; maize Provitamin A-biofortified maize; vitamin A deficiency; maize
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Zuma, M.K.; Kolanisi, U.; Modi, A.T. The Potential of Integrating Provitamin A-Biofortified Maize in Smallholder Farming Systems to Reduce Malnourishment in South Africa. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15, 805.

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