Bill Gates has announced a new investment in the development of improved varieties of rice and cassava to help fight malnutrition in poor continents.
Grants worth £11.4 million will be given out to projects that enhance the nutrition of these staple crops with critical micronutrients.
The Philippine Rice Research Institute and Bangladesh Rice Research Institute will receive £6.3 million to develop strains of golden rice, a variety that contains beta-carotene, which is converted by the body into vitamin A.
A second grant of £5.1 million will go toward the BioCassava Plus project, run by the Nigerian National Root Crops Research Institute and the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute. This project aims to add beta-carotene, iron and protein to cassava, a staple crop for more than 250 million people in Africa.
Golden rice is expected to receive regulatory approval in the Philippines in 2013 and in Bangladesh in 2015. BioCassava Plus should follow a few years later, probably by 2017.