Biofortification scientists win the World Food Prize

Biofortification scientists win the World Food Prize

Four scientists who worked to improve the nutritional content of staple crops have won the 2016 World Food Prize. Laureates Howarth Bouis of HarvestPlus (right), and Maria Andrade, Robert Mwanga, and Jan Low of the International Potato Center (CIP), were announced at a special ceremony at the US State Department today (June 28th).

Bouis founded HarvestPlus, a multi-partner programme dedicated to promoting nutrition, health, and livelihoods by enriching staple food crops with micronutrients, a process known as biofortification. HarvestPlus is a joint venture of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and CIAT.

The work so far has resulted in millions of people in 40 countries either growing or testing biofortified crops such as high-iron beans, vitamin-A cassava and high-zinc wheat. As part of HarvestPlus, CIP scientists Andrade, Mwanga and Low developed and disseminated vitamin A-rich, orange-fleshed sweet potato. It is considered one of the most successful biofortification efforts to date with around 10 million people in Africa and Asia already benefiting from the crop.

HarvestPlus aims to reach 1 billion people with biofortified crops by 2030.


Our heartfelt congratulations go to Howdy, Maria, Robert and Jan, who have helped pioneer one of the most important innovations in crop science since the Green Revolution. This is a great moment for us all to reflect on and celebrate their success, and look to the enormous impact that biofortification will have in the future.

Ruben Echeverría

Director-General, International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)

A child hold a bowl of orange-fleshed sweet potatoes in Tanzania. Pic by Neil Palmer (CIAT).

The World Food Prize is one of the most prestigious awards for individuals whose breakthrough achievements alleviate hunger and promote global food security.

Giving a keynote address to the US State Department today, Administrator Gayle Smith said: “These four extraordinary World Food Prize Laureates have proven that science matters, and that when matched with dedication, it can change people’s lives.”

They will formally receive the award during World Food Prize Week, in Des Moines, Iowa, in October, and will split the USD$250,000 prize money.

Read more about the the 2016 World Food Prize laureates.


HarvestPlus is jointly led by CIAT and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). The program has released over 130 biofortified crops in 30 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America since its inception in 2004. Principal donors to HarvestPlus are the UK Government; the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; the US Government’s Feed the Future initiative; the European Commission; and donors to the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health.