International symposium to focus on zinc for better crop production and human health

Micronutrient deficiencies were very much in the spotlight at IFPRI’s 2020 conference, which focused on how agriculture can improve human nutrition and health.

This October, experts will gather at The 3rd International Zinc Symposium to discuss the global importance of zinc deficiency, a serious threat to both crop production and human populations. The symposium will provide the latest information on zinc deficiency in soils, address crop nutrition and human populations, review the best agricultural practices in addressing zinc deficiency, and discuss impact of zinc deficiency on global crop production and human health.

The symposium will be held in Hyderabad, India from 10 to 14 October 2011. Scientists wishing to make oral or poster presentations at the Zinc Symposium are invited to submit an abstract. The deadline for submission is April 30. Detailed information on the symposium, including registration, is available on the regularly updated symposium website.

The event is sponsored by the International Zinc Association and International Fertilizer Industry Association in cooperation with Fertilizer Association of India and HarvestPlus.

Zinc is lacking in the diets of about 1/3 of the world’s population. Many of these zinc-deficient populations rely on cereal crops, such as wheat, as their staple food. Yet, globally, nearly 50 % of the soils on which cereals are cultivated have very low amounts of zinc. This results in decreased crop yields (plants need zinc too) and poorer nutritional quality of the grain.

Global distribution of soils affected by Zn deficiency (Alloway, 2008)

Maintaining adequate amounts of readily available zinc in soils, helps ensure healthy root growth. Research is underway to investigate under what conditions such zinc fertilizers can increase zinc levels in the grain, or seeds, including high-zinc crops. A related research program has been established under HarvestPlus umbrella (see: