Work packages: WP5
Workpackage 5 addresses objective 3:
- To assess the potential impact of enhanced pulse availability on local human nutrition.
The work is concerned with human health and nutrition, and the effects of including ricebean in the diet. The importance of pulse crops in human nutrition has always been paramount in South Asia where rice/pulse diets are predominant. The period of the Green Revolution has led to a situation where energy requirements have been met for larger proportions of the populations, but where the supply of micronutrients has been restrained by a decreasing per capita availability of pulse crops. Notably, this is affecting the supply of Fe and Zn. While FAO estimates that 840 million people globally are affected by under-nutrition, more than 2 billion people are estimated to be affected by deficiency of one or more micronutrients (Kennedy et al, 2003). The increase in anaemia in the region is well established, while the role of Zn in common infectious diseases has become increasingly recognised over the last 15 years (Kennedy et al, 2003; Fontaine, 2001)
Nutrition intervention may take place in terms of fortification, supplementation or modification of food processing (Gibson & Ferguson, 1998), but there is also considerable interest in development of food system based strategies (Graham & Welch, 1996; Bouis et al, 1999; Combs et al, 1997), . Major efforts related to staple crops are undertaken by the CGIAR institutions, whereas few initiatives have been undertaken in order increase pulse supplies to poor peoples’ diets again.
Baseline data on local diets will be collected, using 24-hour recall studies and household surveys to establish overall patterns and variations according to social, ethnic, gender and age stratifications. Assessing the status of micronutrient supplies in humans differ from element to element. Some micronutrients are reasonably well measured in blood serum, hair or similar measures whereas some, e.g. Zn, are buffered in the body and are best assessed through analysis of bio-available content in the diet (WHO, 1996). As the bioavailability of several essential nutrients is highly dependent on household food processing (Kaur & Kawatra, 2002), food preparation will be a part of the study. Sufficiency/deficiency will be calculated according to WHO standards. Particular emphasis will be put on protein, Fe and Zn.
Crop yield and nutrient content of ricebean grown with improved methods, including seed priming, will be measured. It is of particular interest to analyse whether seed priming with micronutrients has the capacity to raise the micronutrient density of the harvested grain in a cost-effective manner.
The establishment of a knowledge base on local diets, and the knowledge gained from the ricebean study will have considerable transfer value for studies of other crops and interventions in local and regional food systems.
The endpoint of WP5 will be a knowledge of the potential of increased availability of rice bean to bring vulnerable populations from deficient to sufficient ranges of essential nutrients.
Bouis, H.E., Graham, R.D. & Welch, R.M. 1999: The CGIAR micronutrient project: Justification, history, objectives and summary of findings. Paper presented at a workshop on: Improving human nutrition through agriculture: The role of international agricultural research. IRRI, The Phillipines
Graham, R.D. & Welch, R.M. 1996: Breeding for staple food crops with high micronutrient density. Working papers on Agricultural Strategies for Micronutrients, No. 3. IFPRI, Washington D.C.; Bouis, H.E., Graham, R.D. & Welch, R.M. 1999: The CGIAR micronutrient project: Justification, history, objectives and summary of findings. Paper presented at a workshop on: Improving human nutrition through agriculture: The role of international agricultural research. IRRI, The Phillipines