Biofortification with Zinc and Iron for Eliminating Deficiency in Pakistan

BIZIFED Project group of people

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 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.

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.

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Read Our Latest Blog Article
A harvest to reduce zinc and iron deficiencies in people: news of the harvest, and how COVID-19 is impacting our community

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Farmer in Pakistan

Research grouping

International Institute of Nutritional Sciences and Applied Food Safety Studies

Lancashire Research Centre for Global Development

Expertise and Subject area

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
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

Public Outputs

IZiNCG: BIZIFED2 – Biofortification with Zinc and Iron for Eliminating Deficiency in Pakistan
Global Food Security: Hidden Hunger: Biofortified wheat and zinc deficiency in Pakistan
The Conversation: Scientists are breeding super-nutritious crops to help solve global hunger


April 2019 to March 2021

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

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'Community-based research in the time of COVID-19'
BIZIFED2 is one of many research projects around the world affected by COVID-19, but this unexpected pause offers an opportunity to reflect on our progress so far.

Read more here

‘Capacity building by working in partnership with researchers in Pakistan’
An important aspect of the project was capacity building for researchers in Pakistan.

Read more here

£1.9 million for global health research study
UCLan led trial to tackle zinc and iron deficiency receives additional financial support

Read full news story

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