Leading industry professionals mulled over zinc deficiency affecting crops & humans, and stressed on the need for a conducive fertilizer policy, in a webinar organized by International Zinc Association in partnership with Hindustan Zinc Limited (HZL) and India Lead Zinc Development Association (ILZDA) today.
Eminent speakers present at the event included Shri Kailash Choudhary, Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Government of India; Dr Andrew Green, Executive Director, IZA, USA; Mr Arun Misra, CEO, Hindustan Zinc Limited; Mr. L Pugazhenthy, Executive Director, India Lead Zinc Development Association (ILZDA); Dr Peter Robinson, International Consultant, Integrated Resource Management, Canada; to name a few. All speakers actively came in support to discuss the critical issue of micronutrient deficiency, and its association with the country’s food & nutrition security.
Engaging with the audience, Shri Kailash Choudhary, Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Government of India highlighted the efforts taken by the Ministry and GoI under the leadership of Honorable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, including the supply of fortified crops and fertilizer subsidy. “Absence of micronutrient like Zinc has been shown to have a direct impact on the crop output, which therefore is detrimental to food security. We have been working towards strengthening the backward linkages such as the infrastructure upgradation of soil testing, deploying relevant research & development into creation of micronutrient fertilizers, creation of awareness amongst relevant stakeholders. We are committed to achieving these targets in the years to come,” said Shri Kailash Choudhary.
Addressing the audience, Mr Arun Misra, CEO, Hindustan Zinc Limited, highlighted, “The importance of Zinc in strengthening our immunity and protecting us cannot be emphasized enough, as the pandemic has shown the world. Compound that with the deficiency of this key micronutrient in our natural everyday food is a concern that requires all stakeholders to urgently and collectively work towards food fortification. As a conscious step, we at Hindustan Zinc have partnered with IZA and commissioned the study of new and innovative products and technologies to convert primary zinc to raw materials for zinc fertilizer production. We have also initiated a zinc fertilizer trial on farmland at Udaipur in Rajasthan, India to enable Agri-solutions for nutrition security.”
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According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 8,00,000 people die annually due to zinc deficiency, of which 4,50,000 are children under the age of five. As per the UNICEF, the country-wise deaths from diarrhea and pneumonia in children under five depicts that the casualty due to zinc deficiency in India is alarmingly high, even higher than the Sub-Saharan African countries or the neighbouring countries. In India, states including Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan have been reported with severe zinc deficiency in soils as high as 60% with an average deficit of around 40%.
Speaking at the conference, 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. Honorable PM Shri Narendra Modi’s recent announcement to supply fortified grains to the impoverished is yet another remarkable move in boosting food and nutrition security in the country and we’re hopeful that it will certainly boost Zn biofortification.”
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