Global food system is failing to deliver adequate quantities of healthy, nutritionally balanced food, especially to the resource-poor people leading to micronutrient malnutrition. The malnutrition of minerals (Fe, Zn) and vitamin A are major food-related primary health problem among populations of the developing world including India where there is a heavy dependence on cereal-based diets and limited access to meat, fruits and vegetables. Recommended daily intake of vitamin A, Fe and Zn are 600μg, 15mg and 15mg, respectively (Jena et al.,
2018). By consuming twice or thrice a day taking 100-150g rice/meal a person can get hardly 2-3mg Fe and 7-8mg Zn which is 1/5th
and half of the recommended daily intake of Fe and Zn, respectively.
Bio fortification is one solution among many interventions that are needed to solve the complex problem of micronutrient malnutrition. There are several options for Bio fortification, among which genetic and agronomic Bio fortification are mostly used. Agronomic Bio fortification mainly refers to adequate fertilization using an appropriate method and time of application. It gives immediate results and in, general, goes well along with an increase in yield. In aerobic rice, application of ZnSO4 at 25 kg/ha as basal + foliar spray at 0.5% at three stages reveals significantly highest Zn content in grain (35.09 mg/kg) (Barua and Saikia, 2018). Conventional breeding is the most accepted method of Bio fortification. It offers a sustainable, cost-effective alternative to transgenic and agronomic-based strategies. QPM is the best example for conventional breeding. QPM contain higher lysine and tryptophan than traditional varieties (Vasal et al., 1980). Bio fortification of important crop plants through biotechnological applications is a cost-effective and sustainable solution for alleviating Vitamin A Deficiency. Genetic engineering is the obvious alternative to enhance the β carotene levels in crop plants like Golden rice. Awareness of dietary diversity must be followed up to alleviate micronutrient malnutrition. As people of under developed nations cannot afford to supplemented and diversified foods, Research and development of nutrient enriched bio fortified crops should be carried out to address malnutrition problem. The Bio fortification programme along with conventional breeding and Agronomic aspect will become the first choice of the researchers for crop improvement in future.
Vigneshwaran M, Ranjit KR Saud, Karishma Borah and Sarat Sekhar Bora. Bio fortification in cereals is a promising approach to improve nutrition. J Pharmacogn Phytochem 2020;9(2):1222-1229.