Zinc-enriched fertilisers as a potential public health intervention in Africa

Joy, Edward J.M., Stein, Alexander J., Young, Scott D., Ander, E. Louise, Watts, Michael J. and Broadley, Martin R. (2015) Zinc-enriched fertilisers as a potential public health intervention in Africa. Plant and Soil, 389 (1). pp. 1-24. ISSN 1573-5036

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In this review, we examine the potential of Zn-enriched fertilisers to alleviate human dietary Zn deficiency. The focus is on ten African countries where dietary Zn supply is low and where fertiliser subsidies are routinely deployed on cereal crops.


Dietary Zn supply and deficiency prevalence were quantified from food supply and composition data. Typical effects of soil (granular) and foliar Zn applications on Zn concentrations in maize (Zea mays L.), rice (Oryza sativa L.) and wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) grains were based on a systematic literature review. Reductions in disease burdens attributable to Zn deficiency and cost-effectiveness were estimated using a disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) approach.


Baseline Zn supply in 2009 ranged from 7.1 (Zambia) to 11.9 (Mali) mg capita−1 day−1; prevalence of Zn deficiency ranged from 24 (Nigeria) to 66 % (Zambia). In reviewed studies, soil Zn application led to an increase in median Zn concentration in maize, rice and wheat grains of 23, 7 and 19 %; foliar application led to increases of 30, 25 and 63 %. Enriching granular fertilisers within current subsidy schemes would be most effective in Malawi, reducing DALYs lost due to Zn deficiency by 10 %. The cost per DALY saved ranged from US$ 624 to 5893 via granular fertilisers and from US$ 46 to 347 via foliar fertilisers. Foliar applications are likely to be more cost effective than soil applications due to fixation of Zn in the soil but may be more difficult to deploy. Zinc fertilisation is likely to be less cost-effective than breeding in the longer term although other micronutrients such as selenium could be incorporated.

Item Type: Article
RIS ID: https://nottingham-repository.worktribe.com/output/748857
Additional Information: The final publication is available at Springer via http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11104-015-2430-8
Keywords: Agronomic biofortification; Fertiliser; HarvestPlus; Micronutrient deficiency; Phytic Acid; Zinc
Schools/Departments: University of Nottingham, UK > Faculty of Science > School of Biosciences > Division of Plant and Crop Sciences
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11104-015-2430-8
Depositing User: Eprints, Support
Date Deposited: 15 Nov 2016 13:46
Last Modified: 04 May 2020 17:05
URI: https://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/38741

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