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Rice and wheat losing the nutrients

  • Integrity Education, Delhi
  • 20, Jun 2021
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  • Zinc and iron deficiency affects billions of people globally and the countries with this deficiency have diets composed mainly of rice, wheat, corn, and barley.
  • Researchers found depleting trends in grain density of zinc and iron in rice and wheat cultivated in India.
  • Zinc and Iron concentrations in grains of rice cultivars released in the 1960s were 27.1 mg/kg and 59.8 mg/kg. This depleted to 20.6 mg/kg and 43.1 mg/kg, respectively in the 2000s.
  • In wheat, the concentrations of Zinc and Iron-- 33.3 mg/kg and 57.6 mg/kg in cultivars of the 1960s, dropped to 23.5 mg/kg and 46.4 mg/kg, respectively in cultivars released during the 2010s.

Reasons for depletion

  • Dilution effect: decreased nutrient concentration in response to higher grain yield. This means the rate of yield increase is not compensated by the rate of nutrient take-up by the plants.
  • Soils supporting plants could be low in plant-available nutrients


  • Biofortification: Breeding food crops that are rich in micronutrients
  • Management of soil nutrients by changing cropping patterns.