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Biofortification with Zinc and Iron for Eliminating Deficiency (BIZIFED)

Zinc deficiency affects 17% of the world’s population and iron deficiency anaemia (IDA) is the world’s most common micronutrient disorder, with the greatest burden in low and middle-income countries (LMICs).

In Pakistan, the National Nutrition Survey 2011 indicated that over 40% of women were zinc deficient and 20% had IDA.

The health consequences of zinc deficiency include stunted growth and impaired neurodevelopment in children, increased susceptibility to infections in children and adults, and complications during pregnancy and childbirth. IDA affects maternal and child mortality, physical and cognitive development in children and work productivity in adults.

Biofortification is a process by which the nutritional quality of food crops is improved through conventional plant breeding techniques and the addition of nutrient-rich fertilisers. An increasing body of evidence suggests that it may be a cost-effective and sustainable approach to reduce micronutrient deficiencies.

We are conducting the first large-scale investigation into the potential of biofortified wheat to reduce zinc and iron deficiencies among adolescent girls and children in Pakistan.


BiZiFED Research Symposium, National Agricultural Research Centre, Islamabad, March 2018


The programme of work includes three Work Packages:

WP1 – A trial effectiveness study of the potential of biofortified wheat (Zincol-2016) to improve zinc and iron status among adolescent girls and children living in a low resource community in Pakistan.

WP2 – A spatial modelling study to integrate soil and crop data, together with environmental covariates, to enable prediction and mapping of the variation in wheat grain zinc concentration due to soil properties, farmer management and wheat variety.

WP3 – A mixed methods study to understand the socio-cultural factors and market systems that affect the sustainable uptake of biofortified wheat in Pakistan.


International Institute of Nutritional Sciences and Applied Food Safety Studies

Lancashire Research Centre for Global Development

Research Theme: Health and Wellbeing Research Team: Sport, Nutrition and Clinical Sciences School: Sport and Health Sciences

Project Lead/Contact

Professor Nicola Lowe

Project Staff
  • ​Dr Victoria Hall Moran
  • Dr Jonathan Sinclair
Collaborators and Partners
  • Abaseen Foundation (Professor Mukhtiar Zaman)
  • British Geological Survey (Dr Louise Ander)
  • Fauji Fertilizer Company (Dr Munir Zia)
  • Khyber Medical University (Dr Jaffar Khan, Dr Usman Mahboob)
  • King’s College London (Professor Paul Sharp)
  • London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (Dr Edward Joy)
  • University of Nottingham (Professor Martin Broadley, Professor Murray Lark, Dr Liz Bailey, Dr Scott Young)

BBSRC Global Challenges Research Fund

April 2019 to March 2021

Regular updates will be posted on our blog