The International Zinc Association (IZA) signed an agreement with China's Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) to extend an ongoing cooperative project to promote zinc fertilizers in China. This extension is a result of an extremely successful zinc fertilizer research and demonstration effort that began in 2011, with significant improvements in crop yield and economic return for the farmer.

The two-year extension will run through 2013 and will include expanded crop trials, demonstration plots, training, and technology transfer. The total budget is $500,000 and will be funded jointly by both parties. The goal is to improve crop production, human health, and farmers' incomes in China through the use of zinc fertilizers. The Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) recently released their national "Guidance for Promoting Fertilizer Application" which recommends the increased use of zinc fertilizer in every region of China, highlighting the importance of this project.

Forteen percent of China's 1.3 billion people are at risk for zinc deficiency, which poses such health problems as stunting, impaired development, and weak immune systems. China is one of the largest agricultural countries in the world, and over 50 percent of China's arable soils are Zn deficient. The use of zinc-containing fertilizers not only increases crop yield, but crop nutrition as well, which means significant improvement in dietary nutrition.

Agricultural development in China has rapidly increased in the past two decades and China is the largest consumer of fertilizer in the world. During the signing ceremony, Li Tieshen, Ph.D., vice director general of NASTEC (National Agro-Technical Extension and Service Centre, Ministry of Agriculture, P.R.C.) said, "NATESC is very glad to work cooperatively with IZA on the promotion of zinc fertilizer use in China, which is very important to correct zinc deficiency in Chinese crop production, and improve fertilizer application technology and efficiency."

Andrew Green, Ph.D., director of the Zinc Nutrient Initiative for IZA, added that, "IZA is very pleased to partner with the Ministry of Agriculture to address the critical issue of zinc deficiency in China. Increasing the use of zinc fertilizers is an effective and sustainable way to improve food security, increase the income of farmers, and improve the nutritional status of the people."