ZNI Program Overview

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The Zinc Nutrient Initiative (ZNI) seeks to address the critical and linked issue of zinc deficiency in soils, crops and humans with the long-term and sustainable solution of zinc-fortified fertilizers to improve crop yield and nutrition, ultimately improving food security and human health.

Zinc In Health. In human health, zinc deficiency is the fifth leading cause of death and disease in the developing world—a fact that has gained global attention.  The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 800,000 people die annually due to zinc deficiency, with 450,000 of these being children under the age of five.Further, studies by World Bank and others have estimated that micronutrient malnutrition can lead to reduction in gross domestic product up to 5% globally. 

Zinc in Agriculture. Coinciding with zinc deficiency in humans, zinc is also deficient in 50% of the world’s agricultural soils and is recognized as the world’s most common micronutrient deficiency in crops.  The deficiency in soils leads to reductions in crop yields, crop quality, and nutritional status for zinc.  Recent advances in zinc nutrition provide innovative and promising solutions to sustainably help eliminate zinc deficiency.

The Zinc Link. When soils are deficient in zinc, the grain concentrations of crops grown in those soils are lower. People eating crops grown in zinc-deficient soils receive less zinc from their diets and are therefore at risk of zinc deficiency, with severe health consequences including stunted growth, impaired brain development , and death.The link between zinc-deficient soils and zinc deficiency in humans is especially prevalent in developing nations that rely on cereal grains as the main source of calorie intake.

The ZNI approach is designed to establish activities and best practices in the target countries that will ultimately be market-driven and therefore sustainable in the long term.  Practices that are successful in starting countries will be replicated and expanded globally where appropriate as the initial goals are achieved. ZNI’s activities include:

  • Crop and demonstration trials with zinc to highlight and prove the benefits
  • National and regional workshops with key stakeholders for awareness building
  • Training courses covering all aspects of zinc in agriculture and health with extension workers, company representatives, and farmers
  • Development of communication materials including brochures, fact sheets, training manuals, and videos.
  • Coordination with regional partners, including governments (e.g. Departments of Agriculture), NGOs, and the business community (e.g., fertilizer companies) to address policy and market barriers.

ZNI Contacts:

Dr. Andrew Green
Director, ZNI
Durham, NC USA
Dr. Soumitra Das
Director, India Program
New Delhi, India
Dr. Ming Xian Fan
Director, China Program
Beijing, China
Teri Kuhn
Program Coordinator
Durham, NC USA


Infographics illustrating importance of fertilizers in crops and human health

Three infographics released by the International Fertilizer Industry Association (IFA) in partnership with the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) and IZA illustrate the role of macro and micronutrient fertilization in combating malnutrition. These graphics serve as a visual representation of research findings published in Fertilizing Crops to Improve Human Health: A Scientific Review. 

To view the original press release, click here.

Micronutrient Deficiency Infographic

Countries Implementing Partnerships

16 Macro and Micronutrients Required for Healthy Crops


Zinc In Fertilizers Brochure

A comprehensive brochure that illustrates why zinc in agriculture is essential for crops, essential for life. Learn why adding zinc to fertilizer increases crop yield, nutritional content, and human nutrition.


Zinc Nutrient Initiative Newsletter

The ZNI Newsletter is published about four times a year.  Inside are highlights of the latest developments in the ZNI program in China, India, and throughout the world.

To read the latest issue, click here.