Teck: Improving Crop Nutrition and Human Health in China

Nutrition Context and Program Objective

Zinc is essential for health in humans, animals and crops. However, nearly 50% of arable soils in China are low in plant-available zinc, resulting in stunted crop growth, lower yield and nutrition value, and inefficient uses of scarce water and fertilizer resources.

Research has shown that areas with zinc-deficient soils are also often regions with widespread zinc deficiency in humans, leading to significant health issues. In fact, zinc deficiency is the most widespread human micronutrient deficiency in China.

Zinc is crucial for growth and brain development and helps fight dangerous infections, especially in children. 45% of children in China do not get enough zinc in their diet, which can have lifelong health implications due to developmental and cognitive delays.

Heilongjiang Province is one of China’s most important regions for rice production, which makes it an important area of focus for improving soil conditions. Stable rice production in this region is imperative for satisfying global demand for rice. Yet rising inflation and production costs, such as labour, fertilizer and agrichemicals, paired with frequent droughts, have led to increasing challenges for farmers in the province to maintain the nutrition levels in their crops. The yield and nutritional quality of crops, along with farmers’ incomes and public health, can both be improved by ensuring that crops have an adequate supply of zinc.

Project Scope: Partnership Making a Difference

In 2012, Teck entered into a partnership with the National Agricultural Technology Extension Service Center of the Ministry of Agriculture of China (NATESC), an integrated agricultural technology extension organization in China, and the International Zinc Association (IZA) to promote the production and use of zinc fertilizer in China.

NATESC manages the resources of over 400,000 agricultural extension workers from the national to village level. The IZA, a non-profit organization active in zinc and nutrition efforts, supports scientific research, publishes informative materials and holds regional, national and international conferences. Teck is Canada’s largest diversified resource company focused on producing material essential to the quality of life of people around the world – copper, zinc, steelmaking coal and energy.

The project takes a shared value approach, based on the idea that a company can create economic value in a way that also creates value for society by addressing a need or challenge: zinc deficiency.

Impact: Zinc Fertilizer Increasing Crop Yield and Nutritional Quality

For the past four years, the Teck-NATESC-IZA project has been carrying out extensive trial and demo work in the Heilongjiang Province and across China to demonstrate the benefits of zinc fertilizer to China’s agriculture industry.

The project’s crop trial research has found that zinc fertilizer increased crop yields by an average of 8% and increased the nutritional content of zinc in grains by an average of 20%.  The research also found that zinc fertilizer improved nitrogen fertilizer uptake and increased economic returns for farmers.

The Teck-NATESC-IZA project has generated substantial policy support since 2012 with the inclusion of zinc fertilizer in China’s National Fertilizers Recommendation Guidelines for Major Crops Production. The guidelines are provided to thousands of agricultural extension workers and distributed to millions of farmers nationwide. If these guidelines are fully implemented nationwide in China, the total annual zinc required for crop production would be 300,000 tonnes, a significant increase from the 40,000 tonnes used in 2014.

In 2015, 20,000 additional tonnes of zinc were used in fertilizer, which was applied to more than two million hectares of crop land. This translated into over 8 million tons of zinc-enriched food grains and improved zinc nutrition in the diet of more than 6 million children in China. The 2016 program is on track to deliver comparable results and is expected to add a further 20,000 tonnes per year of zinc for use in fertilizers.

In the long term, Teck, NATESC and the IZA would like to see this project in China grow to reach farmers in other countries where there is widespread zinc deficiency in both agricultural soils and humans. Increasing the income of farmers could have significant implications in reducing the cycle of poverty that affects millions of low-income farmers around the world.

About Teck

As one of the world’s largest producers of zinc, Teck is committed to helping solve the global health challenge of zinc deficiency. Teck’s Zinc & Health program partners with international organizations to scale up both short- and long-term solutions to zinc deficiency, including therapeutic zinc for the treatment of childhood diarrhea, zinc supplementation, food fortification and crop nutrition. Click here to learn about Teck’s commitment to Scaling Up Nutrition.

Making a difference in the lives of farmers

Zhang Hai Hong is one of the farmers who have adopted the use of zinc fertilizer after visiting one of the project demonstration plots. He saw first-hand the impact that zinc fertilizer had on crops, especially those affected by droughts and disease.

“After using the zinc fertilizer, I have been having stronger seedlings, especially during the bud-bursting period,” he says. “They grow faster and look healthier. What’s more, they show no sign of stresses like usual in a drought or very cold weather. This means I do not have to worry so much about their getting diseases. Not only has the amount of rice increased, but the quality has too.”

Zhang and his wife are happy with the impact that zinc fertilizer has had on their rice fields. With the additional income, they will now be able to purchase new and much-needed machinery for the Xin Hua Farm and “perhaps a car,” he adds with a smile.

Teck: Improving Crop Nutrition and Human Health in China

Nutrition Context and Program Objective

Zinc is essential for health in humans, animals and crops. However, nearly 50% of arable soils in China are low in plant-available zinc, resulting in stunted crop growth, lower yield and nutrition value, and inefficient uses of scarce water and fertilizer resources.

Research has shown that areas with zinc-deficient soils are also often regions with widespread zinc deficiency in humans, leading to significant health issues. In fact, zinc deficiency is the most widespread human micronutrient deficiency in China.

Zinc is crucial for growth and brain development and helps fight dangerous infections, especially in children. 45% of children in China do not get enough zinc in their diet, which can have lifelong health implications due to developmental and cognitive delays.

Heilongjiang Province is one of China’s most important regions for rice production, which makes it an important area of focus for improving soil conditions. Stable rice production in this region is imperative for satisfying global demand for rice. Yet rising inflation and production costs, such as labour, fertilizer and agrichemicals, paired with frequent droughts, have led to increasing challenges for farmers in the province to maintain the nutrition levels in their crops. The yield and nutritional quality of crops, along with farmers’ incomes and public health, can both be improved by ensuring that crops have an adequate supply of zinc.

Project Scope: Partnership Making a Difference

In 2012, Teck entered into a partnership with the National Agricultural Technology Extension Service Center of the Ministry of Agriculture of China (NATESC), an integrated agricultural technology extension organization in China, and the International Zinc Association (IZA) to promote the production and use of zinc fertilizer in China.

NATESC manages the resources of over 400,000 agricultural extension workers from the national to village level. The IZA, a non-profit organization active in zinc and nutrition efforts, supports scientific research, publishes informative materials and holds regional, national and international conferences. Teck is Canada’s largest diversified resource company focused on producing material essential to the quality of life of people around the world – copper, zinc, steelmaking coal and energy.

The project takes a shared value approach, based on the idea that a company can create economic value in a way that also creates value for society by addressing a need or challenge: zinc deficiency.

Impact: Zinc Fertilizer Increasing Crop Yield and Nutritional Quality

For the past four years, the Teck-NATESC-IZA project has been carrying out extensive trial and demo work in the Heilongjiang Province and across China to demonstrate the benefits of zinc fertilizer to China’s agriculture industry.

The project’s crop trial research has found that zinc fertilizer increased crop yields by an average of 8% and increased the nutritional content of zinc in grains by an average of 20%.  The research also found that zinc fertilizer improved nitrogen fertilizer uptake and increased economic returns for farmers.

The Teck-NATESC-IZA project has generated substantial policy support since 2012 with the inclusion of zinc fertilizer in China’s National Fertilizers Recommendation Guidelines for Major Crops Production. The guidelines are provided to thousands of agricultural extension workers and distributed to millions of farmers nationwide. If these guidelines are fully implemented nationwide in China, the total annual zinc required for crop production would be 300,000 tonnes, a significant increase from the 40,000 tonnes used in 2014.

In 2015, 20,000 additional tonnes of zinc were used in fertilizer, which was applied to more than two million hectares of crop land. This translated into over 8 million tons of zinc-enriched food grains and improved zinc nutrition in the diet of more than 6 million children in China. The 2016 program is on track to deliver comparable results and is expected to add a further 20,000 tonnes per year of zinc for use in fertilizers.

In the long term, Teck, NATESC and the IZA would like to see this project in China grow to reach farmers in other countries where there is widespread zinc deficiency in both agricultural soils and humans. Increasing the income of farmers could have significant implications in reducing the cycle of poverty that affects millions of low-income farmers around the world.

About Teck

As one of the world’s largest producers of zinc, Teck is committed to helping solve the global health challenge of zinc deficiency. Teck’s Zinc & Health program partners with international organizations to scale up both short- and long-term solutions to zinc deficiency, including therapeutic zinc for the treatment of childhood diarrhea, zinc supplementation, food fortification and crop nutrition. Click here to learn about Teck’s commitment to Scaling Up Nutrition.

Making a difference in the lives of farmers

Zhang Hai Hong is one of the farmers who have adopted the use of zinc fertilizer after visiting one of the project demonstration plots. He saw first-hand the impact that zinc fertilizer had on crops, especially those affected by droughts and disease.

“After using the zinc fertilizer, I have been having stronger seedlings, especially during the bud-bursting period,” he says. “They grow faster and look healthier. What’s more, they show no sign of stresses like usual in a drought or very cold weather. This means I do not have to worry so much about their getting diseases. Not only has the amount of rice increased, but the quality has too.”

Zhang and his wife are happy with the impact that zinc fertilizer has had on their rice fields. With the additional income, they will now be able to purchase new and much-needed machinery for the Xin Hua Farm and “perhaps a car,” he adds with a smile.

CASE STUDIES
Click to view Case Studies by country.
CASE STUDIES
Click to view Case Studies by country.