Knowledge for Development

Vitamin A-enriched bananas for East Africa in the pipeline

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Date: 02/09/2014

Introduction:

Scientists at Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Australia, have developed new varieties of banana with enhanced beta-carotene content. Beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A in the body. The beta-carotene bananas are now being tested in a nutritional experiment. The (human) trials are to last for six weeks, and conclusive results will be known by the end of 2014. In addition, over the next three years, an elite line of banana plants is to be selected and used in multi-location field trials in Uganda. According to the scientists, banana varieties with enhanced beta-carotene content could be grown by farmers in Uganda, where about 70% of the population survive on the fruit by 2020.  These new varieties could be an important contribution to solving a worldwide health problem. According to the WHO, an estimated 250 million preschool children are vitamin A-deficient, and an estimated 250,000 to 500,000 of these children become blind every year, with half of them dying within 12 months of losing their sight.   

(Journal21, 2/07/2014)

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