A randomised controlled trial to examine the effectiveness of biofortified wheat as a strategy to reduce zinc deficiency in Pakistan.

Dietary zinc deficiency is a global problem, affecting 17% of the world’s population, with the greatest burden in low and middle-income countries (LMICs). The most recent national survey in Pakistan indicates that over 40% of women are zinc deficient. The consequences of zinc deficiency are profound and far reaching, ranging from increased individual morbidity and mortality to problems with community and regional economic development. We are conducting the first effectiveness study of biofortified zinc wheat in Pakistan, to determine its potential as a strategy to reduce zinc deficiency.

This study has four objectives:

  • Objective 1: Examine the effect of consuming flour made from recently released high zinc wheat variety (zincol/NR-421) grain on dietary zinc intake and status using novel biomarkers that have potential for use in population based settings.
  • Objective 2: Quantify the health economic impact of the addition of zinc-enriched fertilizers to the zinc concentration of high zinc wheat variety (zincol/NR-421) grown at sites of contrasting available soil zinc status.
  • Objective 3: Explore the cultural context, traditions, knowledge and attitudes of local stakeholders (including community leaders, members, and farmers) to genetic biofortification and the use of zinc-enriched fertilizers to enhance dietary zinc intake and increase crop yield.
  • Objective 4: Establish a long-term research partnership to develop local (Pakistan) capacity, infrastructure and expertise for further research into sustainable and culturally sensitive solutions to micronutrient deficiencies.

Read Our Latest Blog Article
Capacity building by working in partnership with researchers in Pakistan

Research grouping

International Institute of Nutritional Sciences and Applied Food Safety Studies

Expertise and Subject area

Research Theme: Health and Wellbeing

Metatheme: Nutritional Sciences

School: Sport and Wellbeing

Project Lead/Contact

Professor Nicola Lowe

Project Staff
Collaborators and Partners
  • Abaseen Foundation
  • Fauji Fertilizer Company
  • Khyber Medical University
  • London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
  • University of Nottingham


BBSRC Global Challenges Research Fund

Public Outputs

The Conversation: Scientists are breeding super-nutritious crops to help solve global hunger


May 2017 to April 2019

Social Media

Regular updates will be posted on our blog

Further information about this project

Professor Nicola Lowe: or 01772 893599

Dr Heather Ohly: or 01772 895703