Rajasthan project aims to improve zinc content in soil

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on September 22, 2019 Published on September 22, 2019

Zinc ingots Bloomberg

International Zinc Association and State government part of the project

The International Zinc Association (IZA), the global body of zinc producers, has joined hands with the World Bank to improve the presence of zinc in deficient Indian soils.

The World Bank and the IZA, in partnership with the Rajasthan government, are carrying out a demonstration project in 50 hectares of land in Sawai Madhopur region in the State.

The Rajasthan project, called Rajasthan Agricultural Competitiveness Project, is part of a $750-million global programme launched by the World Bank to support agricultural projects.

The pilot will be conducted in 50 hectares of land owned by 70 Rajasthan farmers through two cropping seasons this year — both kharif and rabi. The region was chosen because zinc deficiency in the soil here is 75 per cent against the national average of around 40 per cent. While farmers have grown pearl millet during kharif, they will plant wheat in coming winter.

The pilot is planned in such a manner that farmers will grow these crops in one acre plots (0.5 acre without zinc and 0.5 acre with zinc) and compare the yields.

“We expect increased zinc intake to help crops yield up to 20 per cent more. Besides, it would increase the availability of zinc in grains which is essential for healthy growth and brain development in babies,” said Andrew Green, IZA Executive Director.

Green was in India as the demonstration fields are ready for the kharif harvest.

“The crop health and yield with zinc fertilisers were significantly superior compared to the ones without zinc-based fertilisers, showing how the use of zinc can help improve food and nutrition security in India and globally,” he said .

At harvest, the crop yield would be recorded and the soil and plant samples would be sent to the government lab for analysis of zinc content.

It will indicate the zinc build-up in soils and grain enrichment with zinc by the application of zinc fertilisers.

The grain enrichment with zinc will help mitigating the widespread zinc deficiency in the human population.

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Published on September 22, 2019
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