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
João Moraes
Director, Brazil Program
São Paulo, Brazil
55 19 3651 300
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.

ZNI Newsletter        

ZNI Newsletter: Issue No. 10, April 2013

In this issue: World Bank Sustainabile Development Session on Nutrition  |  China MoA continues recommendation for zinc fertilizer  |  Zinc Nutrient Award  |  Fertilizer Latin America 2013  |  NewAg Conference  |  Release of High-Zinc Rice and Wheat Cultivars  |  Nutri-farms in India  |  Country Spotlight: Thailand  |  more


To download this newsletter, click on the desired language:  English  Portuguese  Chinese

ZNI Newsletter: Issue No. 9, January 2013

In this issue: Once again, China MoA expands recommendation for zinc fertilizers  |  Zinc's role in agriculture has investors taking notice  |  IZA-FAI Award  |  One Indian state discusses zinc deficiency in soils for the first time  |  Plant and Soil Journal publishes Zinc Special Issue  |  Country Spotlight: Bangladesh  |  IZA presents at 100th Indian Science Congress  | and more...

To read this issue online, click here.

To download a pdf, click here.


ZNI Newsletter: Issue no. 7, April 2012.

In this issue: China's MOA makes zinc recommendation  |  World Bank to include zinc in Haiti program  |  Indian PM fights to end hunger in India  |  IZA helps develop 5-yr plan for micronutrients in India  |  and more!

ZNI Newsletter: Issue no. 8, August 2012.

In this issue: China's MOA extends zinc recommendation  |  Zinc Fertilizer Project in Malawi  |  Roots for Growth Campaign  |  Permanent Forum on Importance of Zinc established in Brazil  |  and more!