Need for favourable micronutrient fertilizer policy to ensure the food and nutrition security: says Dr Ashok Dalwai – CEO, NRAA, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare

NEW DELHI, March 8, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — To discuss the pressing issues of the sector such as micronutrient deficiency and its impact on agriculture and human health, International Zinc Association in collaboration with Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Rio Tinto, organized a virtual roundtable on ‘Micronutrient Fertilizers for Food and Nutrition Security’ on Friday. Based on the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations’ theme of ‘International Year of Fruits and Vegetables 2021’, with the key objective of the roundtable was to highlight the importance of micronutrient fertilizers including zinc, wherein innovative and new generation fertilizers, like fortified, specialty and water soluble fertilizers were discussed.

Eminent guests that were present in the roundtable included Dr. Ashok Dalwai – Chief Executive Officer, NRAA & Chairman, Task Force, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, GoI; Dr. S.K. Malhotra, Agricultural Commissioner, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, GoI; Mr. Sridhar Dharmapuri – Group Leader, Agriculture and Food Systems, FAO of the United Nations, Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok, Thailand; Mr. Vikram Merchant Country Head, Rio Tinto to name a few.

Highlighting the need for a robust infrastructure in soil testing along with the need to address the micronutrient deficiency, Dr Ashok Dalwai – Chief Executive Officer, NRAA & Chairman, Task Force, Doubling Farmers Income (PMO), Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, GoI, said, “Absence of micronutrient like Zinc and Boron has been shown to have a direct impact on the crop output. The way forward is to strengthen the backward linkages such as the infrastructure upgradation of soil testing, creation of awareness amongst relevant stakeholders, policy redesign and most importantly the research & development that gets deployed into creation of micronutrient fertilizers. We are committed to achieving these targets in the years to come.”

Speaking at the roundtable, Dr. Andrew Green – Executive Director, IZA (USA) said, “For the agricultural sector to grow, not only does the farm production and productivity need improvement but the quality of output needs to be looked at simultaneously. Adding micronutrients such as zinc have not only proven to enhance crop yield and water uptake but also results in healthier, stronger crops.”

With the objective to promote and advance healthy lifestyle and build immunity, FAO announced 2021 as the ‘International year of fruits and vegetables’. Fruits and Vegetables are considered a rich source of nutrients in human health. However, most soils globally are witnessing multi-micronutrient deficiencies, dominated by zinc (Zn) and boron (B). This is adversely impacting yield and quality of crops. India too is a zinc deficient country and about 37 per cent soil samples analysed for available zinc have been found deficient that subsequently leads to zinc deficiency in humans resulting in micronutrient malnutrition. The major causes for micronutrient deficiencies are intensified agricultural practices, imbalanced fertilizer application including NPK, depletion of nutrients and no replenishment.

Green further added, “In order to achieve the greater objective of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations that aims to eradicate hunger, poverty and malnutrition by 2030 by the signatory countries, including India, a favourable and conducive micronutrient policy is inevitable for ensuring the food, nutrition and health security of the country. We are hopeful that the government takes cognizance of these recommendations to address the widespread zinc deficiency.”

Addressing the audience, Ms. Meetu Kapur, Executive Director, CII Food and Agriculture Center of Excellence said, “The program gains relevance given that amongst the multitude of challenges that agriculture faces globally deterioration of soil health is a key concern.  The importance of micronutrients needs to be viewed from a food systems approach and a holistic approach is needed for developing sustainable micronutrient supply systems through interactions/ discussions amongst the stakeholders.”

About International Zinc Association

The International Zinc Association (IZA) was created in 1991 by a group of leading zinc & steel producers to represent the zinc industry globally. IZA’s activities are to sustainably grow markets and maintain the industry’s license to operate through effectively managed initiatives in research and development, technology transfer, and communication of the value of zinc. Operating internationally and locally through its regional affiliates, IZA helps sustain the long-term global demand for zinc and its markets by promoting such key end uses as corrosion protection for steel and the essentiality of zinc in human health and crop nutrition.

IZA’s main programs are Sustainability & Environment, Technology & Market Development and Communications. Headquartered in Durham, North Carolina (USA), IZA also operates regionally through their offices in China, Europe, Latin America, North America, India and South Africa.


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