Feed the Future
This project is part of the U.S. Government's global hunger and food security initiative.

Biofortified Seeds Are Helping Farmers in Guatemala Grow More, Better Maize

Low yields among smallholders jeopardize incomes and farmers’ ability to provide nutritious food for their families. In Guatemala, where malnutrition and stunting rates are among the highest in the world, low yields and an overreliance on nutrient-deficient maize exacerbates poverty and hunger for many families.

To address this, Semilla Nueva introduced Fortaleza F3, a biofortified maize seed with 10 percent higher yields, 250 percent more protein, and nearly 40 percent more zinc than traditional maize varieties. Fortaleza F3 is the only biofortified seed available in Guatemala that is also significantly less expensive than other improved, high-yielding maize seeds on the market.

With support from Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation, Semilla Nueva is scaling Fortaleza F3 sales in new and existing markets in Guatemala. Four months after the partnership began, Semilla Nueva produced and sold more than 950 bags of Fortaleza F3, which is twice as many bags as it sold at the same point last year, providing 30,500 farmers and consumers with access to biofortified maize.

“I have seen the difference compared to other brands in terms of its price and productivity. I want a good seed that has [the] vitamins my family needs to grow. A seed that provides nourishment – not just subsistence,” said Nelson A., a new Semilla Nueva customer.

Farmers reported they switched to Fortaleza F3 because it is cheaper than other improved seeds that cost twice as much to produce at the same level. In addition to affordability, the seed’s potential to improve both productivity and nutrition gained traction in the market as more farmers saw the benefits, swapped low-yielding seed for Fortaleza F3, and became new customers.

The seed’s impact on yields, nutrition, and even taste has also been key in expanding the market for biofortified seed. “My tortilla shop is now famous because of Fortaleza F3, because the tortillas are softer and tastier,” said shop owner Axel C.

Word of mouth is a powerful tool for Semilla Nueva as many early adopters become loyal customers and promote the brand in their communities. Brand advocates like Nelson and Axel help Semilla Nueva sell Fortaleza F3 – increasing yields and reducing malnutrition in Guatemala.

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