WHERE : Zambia
Vitamin A deficiency is a major public health problem in Zambia, affecting approximately one-third of children and 21% of women. The Zambian government introduced a new variety of biofortified, provitamin A (PVA)-rich maize to smallholder farmers, but consumers have been slow to demand this new orange product, delaying the creation of a viable market for the new crop.
The AgResults Biofortified Maize Pilot was a five-year project funded by a consortium of international donors designed to introduce PVA maize seed and meal into Zambian commercial markets. Focusing on private sector development, the pilot targeted millers and seed companies as market catalysts to create consumer demand for biofortified PVA maize products. Through an innovative “pull mechanism,” the pilot incentivized seed companies to sell PVA maize seed to farmers and commercial millers to sell PVA maize meal to consumers. Seed companies and commercial millers who met certain thresholds for sales of PVA maize seed and meal received performance-based grants to support the risks taken in entering this market. Eight commercial millers and two seed companies participated in the pilot.
Maize is a staple of the Zambian diet, eaten multiple times a day by households in rural and urban areas. The potential to increase household consumption of PVA maize and ultimately a person’s daily intake of vitamin A is great. Nutritionists estimate that eating orange maize could contribute to 25% of a person’s daily vitamin A needs. By partnering with local organizations, we were able to greatly increase consumer awareness about the benefits of PVA maize products and a diet rich in vitamin A foods. The pilot aimed to stimulate production and consumption of over 60,000 MT of biofortified PVA maize meal over the life of the project.