The UN's view on Malnutrition - Dr. David Nabarro
Traditionally, fertilizers have been used to maintain or restore soil fertility, increase crop yield and improve crop quality. Their management has been progressively improved to optimize their economic return, while minimizing negative impacts on the environment. New research has recently revealed another key role of fertilizers in providing solutions not only to food security but also to malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies. IFA is spearheading efforts to encourage the adoption of agronomic bioforticiation by adding micronutrients to fertilizers to alleviate micronutrient deficiencies worldwide.
Good human health not only requires enough calories but also sufficient intake of all essential nutrients. Billions of people, mostly in developing countries, suffer from micronutrient malnutrition, sometimes referred to as “hidden hunger”. The nutrient deficiencies most commonly associated with human health problems on a global scale are iron, zinc and iodine, but selenium and fluorine deficiencies are also widespread. Micro-enriched fertilization is considered one of the most promising ways to fight malnutrition in soils, livestock and people.
While some initiatives have promoted micronutrient fertilization in specific countries (Turkey, China, Finland, Australia, India, New Zealand), they should be implemented in a larger number of countries where similar deficiencies in soils, crops and humans are widespread. Fertilization practices can also impact the composition of food products. Enhancing the levels of health-beneficial compounds could be considered a fertilization objective as well. Potassium fertilization can enhance antioxidants in tomato and soybean.
IFA and the International Plant Nutrition Institute
(IPNI) are encouraging the fertilizer industry and governments around the world to promote this simple, affordable and sustainable solution to alleviate malnutrition and nutrient-related diseases that mostly affect women and children worldwide.