Rice is the staple food for more than half the world’s population and 90 percent of the world’s rice is grown and consumed in Asia. In several populous Asian countries, rice provides up to 80 percent of the energy intake of the poor. Because of this high daily consumption, rice is an ideal staple crop to biofortify with zinc.   

Nutritional Benefit 

Provides up to 40 percent of daily zinc needs for women of reproductive age and children when eaten regularly

Varieties Released to Date 
Asia: 11 
Countries: Bangladesh, India, Indonesia 

Latin America / Caribbean:
Countries: Bolivia, El Salvador 

Total Households Growing (2021) 
2.4 million  

CGIAR Breeding Partner: International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and The Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT.

Rice that is bred to be high in zinc can provide up to 60 percent of daily zinc needs and contribute to a reduction in zinc deficiency in regions where daily rice consumption is high.   

HarvestPlus works in partnership with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) to support National Agricultural Research partners and interested seed companies to breed, test, and release varieties of zinc rice in countries where rice is a key staple food.  

We are currently supporting partners in India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, with recent expansion into testing and breeding of zinc rice in parts of Latin America and Africa.   

zinc rice in Bangladesh
Featured Project

Commercialisation of Biofortified Crops (CBC) Program

The CBC Program, implemented by HarvestPlus and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), aims to addresses hidden hunger in Bangladesh by significantly expanding the reach of nutrient-rich biofortified crops and foods in the market. CBC program is working with 600 farmers producer group, 240 seed retailers, 120 rice aggregators, and 19 millers in Bangladesh.

HarvestPlus Varieties Released Database

Explore the database for details on all HarvestPlus-promoted zinc rice varieties that have been released by country.

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Biofortification Priority Index

View an interactive map developed by HarvestPlus to show where investments in zinc rice are likely to have the greatest impact on nutrition and health.

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Global Crop Map

This interactive map shows which types of biofortified crops are available or in testing around the world.

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Nutrition Information and Evidence

Baseline zinc concentration in non-biofortified varieties: 16 parts per million (PPM)  

100% target concentration of zinc in zinc-biofortified varieties: 28 PPM 

Bioavailability of zinc in zinc-biofortified rice varieties: 20% 

Key Nutrition Evidence:  

Despite nutrient losses that occur during processing, biofortified rice can provide unto 50 percent of the daily zinc needs for children. Zinc intake from parboiled rice-biofortified or not- is less than for non-parboiled rice.  

Biofortified rice is as good a source of zinc as fortified rice and can help combat zinc deficiency. Biofortifying rice with mineral fertilizers increases the zinc content.  

Zinc Rice in the Value Chain

This brochure describes the benefits of zinc rice for consumers and food businesses, and how to integrate it into production and marketing.

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Contact Our

Crop Experts

Contact the HarvestPlus crop experts for more information about nutritional and agronomic characteristics of zinc rice, growing, harvesting, and processing zinc rice, and connecting with seed suppliers or grain buyers.