Wheat is the second most consumed cereal in Asia, after rice. In 2020-2021, global wheat production was at a record high with 773 million metric tons produced. In South Asia, where micronutrient deficiencies are widespread and wheat consumption is high, this major staple food crop is an ideal candidate for biofortification. Providing zinc through biofortified wheat can improve nutrition for millions of zinc-deficient people.  

Nutritional Benefit 

Provides up to 50 percent of daily zinc needs for women of reproductive age and children when eaten regularly  

Varieties Released to Date 

Asia: 19
Countries: Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh. 

LatAmerica / Caribbean: 3 
Countries: Bolivia, Brazil and Mexico. 

Total Households Growing (2021) 
2.2 million  

CGIAR Breeding Partners: The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT)

Millions of poor people in Asia suffer from hidden hunger, which includes zinc deficiency. Zinc is required for more body functions than any other mineral and is essential for survival. Lack of zinc in the diet inhibits normal growth and development and restricts functioning of the immune system. Wheat that is bred to be high in zinc can provide up to 50% of daily zinc needs and contributes to a reduction in zinc deficiency in regions where daily wheat consumption is high.   

HarvestPlus works in partnership with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) to support National Agricultural Research partners and interested seed companies to breed, test, and release varieties of zinc wheat in countries where wheat is a key staple food. Some of the new varieties that are being bred and tested have been found to be agronomically on par or superior to popular wheat crops that are commonly grown in South Asia.  

We are currently supporting partners in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan in Asia.  

Featured Project

Zinc Wheat in India

The “Commercialisation of Biofortified Crops” programme with the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) provides targeted support and addresses challenges and constraints of commercialization. The overall vision of this program is to scale up the commercialisation of biofortified foods. To realize this vision the program aims to improve access to inputs and markets for biofortified seeds and food products, generate demand for these nutrient-rich staple crops, and provide advocacy, catalytic financing, and technology licensing services.

HarvestPlus Varieties Released Database

Explore the database for details on all HarvestPlus-promoted zinc wheat 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 wheat 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: 25 parts per million (PPM) 

100% target concentration of zinc in zinc-biofortified wheat varieties: 37 PPM 

Bioavailability of zinc in zinc-biofortified wheat varieties: 15% 

Key Nutrition Evidence:  

Biofortified whole grain flour provides more zinc than highly refined wheat flour. For populations with low zinc status, eating whole grain wheat flour can help ensure optimal intakes.

Significantly more zinc is absorbed by the body from biofortified wheat than from common varieties and is as good a source of zinc as fortified wheat. Applying zinc fertilizers increases the zinc in wheat grain, though results vary based on geography and other environmental effects. 

When foods made with zinc wheat are eaten daily, women and children spent fewer days sick with common illness, such as pneumonia and fever.  

Zinc Wheat in the Value Chain

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

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Food Products 

HarvestPlus partners with processors and consumer food businesses, primarily in the SME sector, to develop and market products made with biofortified ingredients.

Flat bread



Contact Our Crop Experts

They are available to provide more information about zinc wheat regarding nutritional and agronomic characteristics, growing and harvesting, processing techniques, marketing strategies, connecting with seed and/or crop suppliers and buyers.

Contact our Experts