Udaipur, December 4th, 2021.

In India, about 40% of the agricultural soils are Zinc-deficient, which amounts to over 60 million hectares (Mha) being Zinc deficient. Zinc deficiency is recognized as the 5th major cause of diseases in developing countries. To address this crippling issue, International Zinc Association (IZA), along with Hindustan Zinc Limited (HZL) announced a first-of-its-kind pilot project to study the effect of zinc application on crop productivity, soil health and popularizing Zinc fertilization among the farmers by entering into an MoU with Maharana Pratap University in Udaipur.

As part of the MoU, Maharana Pratap University undertooka discussion around “Promotion of Zinc in Crops for Ensuring Food and Nutrition Security”with the objective

  • To study the effect of Zn application methods on productivity, soil health and quality of maize-wheat cultivars under zinc deficient areas.
  • To popularize the Zn fertilization among the farmers through field demonstration and capacity building.

As part of the pilot project, the university would engage and mentor around 100 farmers to incorporate zinc to increase productivity, starting with wheat and then maize in the next cropping season. 

Mr Arun Misra, CEO Hindustan Zinc, said, “Zinc is a key micronutrient that is an absolute must for our body to strengthen our immunity and protect us is a realization that has become a part of our life as we are fighting the pandemic. While this is a fact, the worrying reality is that In India, about 40% of the agricultural soils are Zinc-deficient making the crop and food we consume deficient in Zinc. The need of the hour is to grow and consume Zinc rich food and that requires us to urgently and collectively work towards food fortification. As a conscious step, we at Hindustan Zinc have partnered with International Zinc Association (IZA) and Maharana Pratap University of Agriculture & Technology (MPUAT) to start a zinc rich crop trial on a farmland at Udaipur in Rajasthan, India to enable Agri-solutions for nutrition security. This pilot project will study new and innovative products and technologies for Zinc application methods on productivity, soil health and quality of maize-wheat cultivars in the zinc deficient areas to make our meals enriched with zinc nutrient.”

Speaking at the conference, Dr Andrew Green – Executive Director, IZA said, “For the agricultural sector to grow, not only does the farm production require improvement, but the output quality needs to improve as well. The Zinc deficiency in the soil leads to its insufficiency in the plant that not only reduces crop productivity but the low content of Zinc in grain and stover causing Zinc deficiency in human and animals with serious health impairment and functioning. Therefore, comprehensive steps have to be taken to get a complete solution, from irrigation to sowing, harvesting to ensure the issue of zinc deficit is addressed, a humongous issue. International Zinc Association acknowledges that environment and sustainability programs are essential to the future of Zinc and is committed to contributing scientific know how towards that aim.”

The MoU was attended by Dr N. S. Rathore Vice-Chancellor MPUAT, Udaipur, Dr Andrew Green Executive Director, IZA, Dr Soumitra Das Director, South Asia, ZNI, IZA, Amrita Singh. Chief Marketing Officer, Hindustan Zinc Ltd, Dr S. K. Sharma, Director Research, MPUAT, Udaipur, Dr Devendra Jain, Assistant Professor, DrGajanandJat, Assistant Professor, RCA, Udaipur. They discussed the relevance of the use of Zinc in crop production and to popularize the Zinc fertilization among the farmers.

Raising concern over the issue, Dr Soumitra Das, Director (South Asia), Zinc Nutrient Initiative, IZA, said, The best way to address this issue is to increase the awareness and educating the concerned stakeholders, including the extension & promotional workers and more importantly, the last mile delivery – the end beneficiary, the farmers. It is estimated that about 50% of the cereal-cultivated soils globally are deficient in plant-available Zinc, leading to reductions in crop production and nutritional quality. Therefore, we have planned a strategic multi-step approach consisting of a proposed study on new and innovative products/technologies.”

On this association, Dr N.S. Rathode, Vice-Chancellor, MPUT, “This association will prove extremely helpful for southern Rajasthan where more than 50% of the land is deficit of zinc. Through this association and the newer technology used, the agricultural land in Rajasthan will be extremely benefitted, and we will be able to lessen the zinc deficit in the land”.