There is growing agreement on the urgent need to transform global and local food systems to be healthier, more affordable, and less damaging to the environment. How to get there is the challenge. Recent work on costing diets has revealed that healthy diets are unaffordable for around 3 billion people in every region of the world. Many argue that part of the problem is the concentration of limited research resources on a staple crop enhancement, at the expense of investing in vegetable and fruit research. This talk will examine this issue and address how nutrient-enhanced biofortified staples, particularly the vitamin A sweetpotato, can contribute towards a more affordable healthier food system and what changes would be required to maximize that contribution.
Jan Low is a principal scientist with the International Potato Center (CIP), based in Nairobi, Kenya. During the past decade, she managed the Sweetpotato Action for Security and Health in Africa (SASHA) research project and co-led the Sweetpotato for Profit and Health Initiative (SPHI). The SPHI was a multi-partner, multi-donor initiative that reached 6.8 million African households in 15 target countries with improved varieties of sweetpotato, promoting their diversified use. Dr. Low obtained her doctorate in agricultural economics at Cornell University, minoring in nutrition. Having worked over 25 years in sub-Saharan Africa, she has focused with her team on developing and promoting biofortified orange-fleshed sweetpotato to combat vitamin A deficiency. In 2016, along with two CIP sweetpotato breeders (Maria Andrade and Robert Mwanga) and Howarth Bouis of HarvestPlus, Dr. Low was awarded the World Food Prize for her work on biofortification. The speaker will present in-person in Emerson 135