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 AS  Vol.7 No.5 , May 2016
Linking Agriculture with Health through Genetic and Agronomic Biofortification
Abstract: Malnutrition and associated health problems are partly related to minerals and vitamins deficiencies where anemia and stunting are the major diseases affecting nearly half of pregnant women and about 20% children under age of five, respectively in developing countries. Despite the significant progress made in recent decades, prevalence of stunting in Ethiopia remains high (44%, among children) that necessitate the country yet to make significant investment in nutrition and health. Strategies designed to overcome the problem range from micronutrient rich foods supplement to complementing foods with vegetables and fruits. However, such strategies are expensive as well as not sustainable to reach the poor households of developing countries. The persistence of the problem calls for agriculture based alternative solutions such as agronomic biofortification and micronutrients biofortification through plant breeding. Utilization of crop wild relatives, local landraces and old cultivars are proved to contain sufficient grain micronutrients and their utilization in breeding programs can solve the deficiency of micronutrients such as zinc and iron. Similarly, agronomic biofortification could improve grain Zn and Fe contents in several folds. Application methods and crop developmental stages during which fortification applied significantly determine the efficiency of fortification. Foliar application at heading and milking stages could accumulate very high Zn and Fe in cereal grains. The synergistic effect of genetic and agronomic fortification could also be utilized to produce Zn and Fe rich food crops. Hence, linking agriculture with nutrition and health could offer equitable, effective, sustainable and cheap solutions to micronutrients malnutrition and their deficiency related health problems.
Cite this paper: Melash, A. , Mengistu, D. and Aberra, D. (2016) Linking Agriculture with Health through Genetic and Agronomic Biofortification. Agricultural Sciences, 7, 295-307. doi: 10.4236/as.2016.75029.
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