In order to make agriculture and food systems more nutrition-enhancing, the fertilizer industry proposes a focus and macro and micro nutrient fertilization. Therefore, we ask the members of the FSN to have a look at our newly-released project: three infographics on crop fertilization to address malnutrition.
These graphics constitute a visual vehicle for the scientific research findings published in the Fertilizing Crops to Improve Human Health: A Scientific Review publication jointly published by the Fertilizer Industry Association (IFA) and the International Plant Nutrition Institute(IPNI) in late 2012. Both the infographics and the scientific review are part of the fertilizer industry’s efforts to improve food security and nutrition. The fertilizer industry is actively engaged in demonstrating the importance of soil health conservation, nutrient management, sustainable intensification and nutrition. IFA is a strong advocate of developing new post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals that clearly aim at eradicating hunger and malnutrition and promoting sustainable agricultural practices.
Key messages about how macro and micro nutrient fertilization can enhance food systems by increasing:
· Quality: adding fertilizers and micronutrients to soil can increase the content, composition and bioavailability of vitamins and nutrients.
· Quantity: Deficiencies in nutrients reduce crop yields of 40-60%.
· Diversity: Adding macro and micro nutrients through fertilization can positively impact crop texture, flavor and shelf life.
· Safety: Fertilizers diminish human health risks; for example Selenium reduces incidence of heart disease.
The infographics highlight the significant improvements that can be made to crop productivity, livestock health and people’s nutrition by simply adding micronutrients to regular fertilizer products. For most micronutrients, if the soils are deficient, the same deficiency is found in the crops, the animals and the people. One of the infographics describes some key examples of successful strategies implemented in Europe, Asia and Oceania. In Finland, for example, the government implemented the addition of Selenium to fertilizers in order to help tackle heart disease. Turkey, on the other hand, has been adding Zinc, resulting in increased wheat yields in Central Anatolia.
We stress the fact that micronutrient fertilization is a simple, affordable and sustainable solution to contribute to eradicating deficiencies globally, in particular in the case of zinc, selenium and iodine. This makes it a viable program which can be tailored to regional and national needs and implemented worldwide. Partnerships already exist in many countries but the scale of the work needs further dissemination of these important findings provided in IFA-IPNI’s scientific review.
Macro and micro nutrient fertilization directly addresses one of the five goals of the Zero Hunger Challenge, namely the eradication of stunting. In addition, the growing concerns about macro and micro nutrient deficiencies in food have been addressed by the updated Lancet report on mother and child nutrition, published in June, which highlights the imperative need for better nutrient data at national level in order to devise a global approach targeting hidden hunger hotspots.
Further info and resources can be found my accessing the links below:
· IFA infographics: http://www.fertilizer.org/ifa/HomePage/SUSTAINABILITY/Nutrition
· Fertilizing Crops to Improve Human Health: A Scientific Review: http://www.fertilizer.org/ifacontent/download/90302/1324791/version/1/file/2012_ipni_ifa_fchh_final.pdf
· Lancet Report: http://www.thelancet.com/series/maternal-and-child-nutrition