Agriculture is the starting point of food chain. While increasing productivity in agriculture on the one hand, protecting land and natural agricultural resources, increasing farmer’s quality of life, but most importantly ensuring food and nutrient safety by supplying quality food products needed by increasing global population in sufficient amounts, are the fundamental concepts of agricultural sustainability.
Nutrition and food safety
Nutrition and food safety are one of the key topics for the future of humanity. Starvation, still affects 1 billion people worldwide and poor nutrition 2 billion, majory of which is comprised by children. According to the estimates of UN Food and Agricultural Organization, FAO, loss of productivity and health expenses caused by poor nutrition impose 3.5 trillion USD (approximately 5% of global GDP) burden upon the global economy. When health issues encountered by global population are analyzed, it is seen that more than 1/10 of these arise from poor nutrition.
In this framework, fertilizer sector has a strategic importance to feed the world and contribute to the food safety, both are crucial in terms of sustainable development targets. Test studies conducted by FAO for 25 years in 40 countries, suggest that accurate and balanced fertilization may engender on average 60% increase in yield. Increase in yield, which shall be generated by the use of “the right nutrient, in the right ratio, in the right time and place” referred to as “4R” (4 Rights), is one of the fundamental assurances in ensuring global food safety.
On the other hand, plant nutrients, thanks to the microelements they contain, have a positive impact not only on plant growth but also on nutrition and hence human productivity and economy. Enrichment of plant nutrients with microelements such as zinc and iodine in addition to nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, which are already existing in their formula, does not only help increase yield of produce but also makes a significant contribution to nutrition by increasing bioavailability of these nutrients consumed by humans.
An exemplary practice from Toros Agri: Zinc Fertilizer
All living creatures need zinc to live. Zinc, as a nutrient, is contained within plants and serve in numerous number of enzymes’ structures in humans and animals. Plants absorb zinc from the soil through their capillary roots. Lack of sufficient amount of zinc in soil, leads to shortage of zinc absorption for plants. This slows down the growth and development of plants; so, productivity and quality decrease.
Zinc also has a vital importance for human health. People need 8-10 mg zinc every day. Particularly, zinc-containing food in the diets of adolescent children and pregnant women generates a positive effect over their development. However, researches show that 87% of the agricultural land in Turkey lacks sufficient amount zinc available to plants. To remove this shortage, Toros Agri has decided to produce zinc added composed fertilizer for the first time in the world. The use of zinc fertilizers increases yield and quality of plants and makes a significant contribution to the removal of zinc deficiencies common among people.
Today in Turkey, over 300 thousand tons of zinc-enriched fertilizer is used yearly and according to Ministry of Agriculture this contributes around 100 million USD to the economy. This economic benefit, doubled with zinc’s benefit for human health, turns the zinc fertilizer practice pioneered by Toros Agri into a global success story.
The role of agriculture in fighting with poverty
There are roughly 1.5 billion people in the world that live on agriculture. 70% of these are small farmers who plant one or two hectares of land. These people, while serving as the main elements of global food supply, barely get on with their lives and work under dire conditions. Plant nutrients are critical to render small farmers more productive, and increase their contribution to the economy from where they are based.
The World Bank studies show that agricultural sector has a significant role to reduce poverty. Agricultural investment is one of the most effective tools in abolishment of poverty. Governments may attain their targets regarding gender equality, education, health and economic opportunities easier by increasing farmers’ level of wealth.
Food and agriculture sector has a huge potential in environmentally sustainable development. All the actors of agriculture-food supply chain are obliged to produce more by using less. We must make better use of our arable land and yield more product with higher nutritional value from the same land. As Toros Agri, we shall continue our efforts to secure food safety, which is the most important issue for human wealth and sustainable development, by means of offering high-quality inputs to farmers and by continuing our awareness raising activities among farmers.