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High-zinc rice could help food security

As the country with the highest rate of rice consumption per person, Bangladesh is poised to find bio-fortification methods in order to insure food security for its 158.6 million people, according to IRIN News.

Bio-fortification differs from traditional food fortification in that selective breeding is used to harvest the nutrition-rich foods, instead of adding nutrients to the foods after they are harvested.

Forty percent of Bangladesh's population lives below the poverty line and many cannot afford to eat zinc-rich meat. Thus, a means of producing rice with high zinc content can significantly aid the zinc deficiency that is severely stunting the growth of many Bangladeshi children under 5-years-old.

Convincing farmers to produce bio-fortified crops may be a challenge.

“Farmers are risk averse. However we are planning an educational campaign about the benefits of bio-fortified rice. If consumers are motivated, farmers will be motivated," according to Rezaul Karim, the manager in Bangladesh for HarvestPlus, a Washington-based NGO.

Seventy percent of women in Bangladesh have zinc-deficiency, while 43 percent of children are moderately to severely stunted.

Bangladesh's unemployment rate is 4.8 percent, according to the CIA Factbook. Forty-five percent of the labor force currently works in agriculture. 
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