Around the world, almost half of all deaths in children aged under five are caused by poor nutrition. Chronic malnutrition in children stunts the development of the brain and body, increasing the likelihood of illness and negatively affecting the child's chances of staying in education – leading to lower earnings and ultimately trapping people in a cycle of poverty.

Malnutrition is not necessarily caused by famine. Even if there is an abundance of food, malnutrition can occur if there is a lack of variety. In Central America, for example, maize is a staple food source, but many families lack alternative sources of nutrition. Guatemala-based Semilla Nueva – one of the Global Innovators selected by Expo 2020 Dubai’s Expo Live Programme – is addressing this by helping farmers grow biofortified corn seeds. These seeds, selected from the most nutritious corn seeds found in nature and in the world’s seed banks and created through conventional breeding, are low-cost, high-yield, and importantly, produce maize that is significantly more nutritious than standard crops.

By working with communities, NGOs and government agencies, Semilla Nueva is expanding the production of this non-GMO corn, known as Fortaleza, throughout Guatemala. With the support of the Expo Live Programme, Semilla Nueva hopes to scale up its operation and expand its impact to reach 900 million people globally who eat maize on a daily basis, improving the lives of farmers, positively impacting nutrition and ending the cycle of poverty.

The Expo 2020 Dubai Innovation Series is a weekly blog series highlighting some of the creative and world-changing innovations that are being showcased via Expo 2020 Dubai’s programmes and pavilions.

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