Nutrition International, the University of Saskatchewan partner to fortify lentils to reduce iron deficiency at scale

Left to right (seated): Prof. Jim Lee, Executive Director, International, University of Saskatchewan and Brian Harrigan, Vice-President, Strategy & Growth, Nutrition International. Left to right (standing): Khalid Hasan, Chief Operating Officer, ResInt Canada Research, Rajib Podder, Research Assistant, University of Saskatchewan, Carol Henry, Project Lead, University of Saskatchewan, Rob Norris, Senior Strategist for Research Partnerships, University of Saskatchewan and Bangladesh’s Honorary Consul to Saskatchewan, Shawna Bieber, Project Manager, University of Saskatchewan and Rowena Sugay, NLIFT Program Manager, Nutrition International.

Saskatoon, CANADA Nutrition International is partnering with the University of Saskatchewan as part of its Nutrition Leverage and Influence for Transformation (NLIFT) initiative, funded by the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada, investing close to $200,000 CAD to support a trial aimed at establishing the efficacy of iron-fortified lentils in reducing iron deficiency.

Iron deficiency is a widespread public health issue which can have significant adverse impacts on the health and well-being of those affected, many of which are adolescent girls. Lentils, a staple in many countries around the world – and a major Canadian export – make excellent fortification vehicles that could prevent this deficiency when fortified with iron. Yet there are no fortified lentils currently available on the market.

With technical support from Nutrition International and other partners, the University has developed a technology to fortify lentils with iron. The objective of this phase of the study is to generate evidence of the health benefits of fortified lentils in a sample group of adolescent girls in Mymensingh District, in rural Bangladesh ― with the hope that this evidence will facilitate acceptance of fortified lentils in Bangladesh, and by government stakeholders, bulk institutional buyers and lentil processors. Ultimately, the partners hope to create a market for fortified lentils, expand its commercial application and facilitate global scale-up within a few years.

“Our partnership with Nutrition International is a wonderful example of how collaborations between innovative researchers at the University of Saskatchewan, NGOs, industry leaders, and government organizations can lead to real solutions that will benefit communities around the world.  This is a key aspect of our internationalization strategy and is core to our University’s mission,” said Prof. Jim Lee, Executive Director, International at the University of Saskatchewan.
“Drawing on our technical expertise across campus and our increasingly dynamic partnerships in Bangladesh, the University of Saskatchewan is pleased to work with Nutrition International to enhance food and nutritional security in this South Asian country. We’re also pleased as this new partnership will assist Saskatchewan and Canadian agricultural companies in gaining greater market access in Bangladesh,” said Rob Norris, Senior Strategist for Research Partnerships and Bangladesh’s Honorary Consul to Saskatchewan.

Nutrition International and the University of Saskatchewan intend to expand their collaboration beyond lentil fortification and have cemented this partnership in a Memorandum of Understanding between the two organizations signed on July 12 in Saskatoon.

“Nutrition International is proud to be partnering with the University of Saskatchewan by leveraging our joint strengths and expertise,” said Brian Harrigan, Nutrition International’s Vice-President, Strategy and Growth. “A powerful example of this is our research into the multiple dimensions involved in the development of iron-fortified lentils. We look forward to expanding our collaboration with the university in several academic and research activities in agriculture and food security and nutrition, and transforming the lives of millions around the world.”

For more information download our University of Saskatchewan partnership fact sheet (PDF) here.