Journal Article

Identifying candidate sites for crop biofortification in Latin America : Case studies in Colombia, Nicaragua and Bolivia


Agricultural science can address a population's vitamin, amino acid and mineral malnutrition through biofortification - agronomy, plant breeding and biotechnology to develop crops with high nutrient contents. Biofortified crop varieties should be grown in areas with populations at risk of nutrient deficiency and in areas where the same crop is already grown and consumed. Information on the population at risk of nutrient deficiency is rarely available for sub-national administrative units, such as provinces, districts, and municipalities. Nor is this type of information commonly analyzed with data on agricultural production. This project developed a method to identify populations at risk of nutrient deficiency in zones with high crop production, places where biofortification interventions could be targeted.


Nutrient deficiency risk data were combined with crop production and socioeconomic data to assess the suitability of establishing an intervention. Our analysis developed maps of candidate sites for biofortification interventions for nine countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Results for Colombia, Nicaragua, and Bolivia are presented in this paper. Interventions in northern Colombia appear promising for all crops, while sites for bean biofortification are widely scattered throughout the country. The most promising sites in Nicaragua are found in the center-north region. Candidate sites for biofortification in Bolivia are found in the central part of the country, in the Andes Mountains. The availability and resolution of data limits the analysis. Some areas show opportunities for biofortification of several crops, taking advantage of their spatial coincidence. Results from this analysis should be confirmed by experts or through field visits.


This study demonstrates a method for identifying candidate sites for biofortification interventions. The method evaluates populations at risk of nutrient deficiencies for sub-national administrative regions, and provides a reasonable alternative to more costly, information-intensive approaches.