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Micronutrients stakeholder workshop
Micronutrients workshop
Tuesday April 5, 2016 Image: via Flickr (by: Adam Cohn)
All day event


Centraal Museum, Tuinzaal
Nicolaasdwarsstraat 14
Utrecht, 3512 XH Netherlands
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This stakeholder workshop entitled “Micronutrient management for improving harvests, farmers’ incomes, human nutrition, and the environment” is facilitated by the Food & Business Knowledge Platform and will take place in Utrecht. Please find the detailed programme below. If you are interested to participate, you can send an email to ; registration is open till March 25, 2016. 


The management of micronutrients in the African agro-food system is becoming more and more important and raises increasing interest from business, research and development organisations. In addition to the macro nutrient (N-P-K) often applied in fertilizers to increase the agricultural production, micronutrients available for plant growth increasingly become a limiting factor. In addition, adding micronutrients to fertilizers used may have a positive effect on human health as harvested products may have a higher micronutrient content.

Research institutes and private sector are working on improved micronutrient fertilizers, from a more classical mixture or blending of micronutrients in generic NPK fertilizers, to more advanced technical solutions, including coatings, embedding and liquid forms for foliar application. The challenge, as formulated by the Virtual Fertilizer Research Centre (VFRC), a semi-autonomous unit of the IFDC and the initiator of this process, is now to clarify and unlock the potential of balanced micronutrient containing fertilizers by making them available to resource poor farmers taking into account the local production (ecological, soil, water) conditions and socio-economic context. It will be important to identify ways to avoid similar adoption problems as encountered with the more classical inputs promoted under the Green evolution umbrella.

Given the above interest from business, research and development organisations, it is worth exploring the issue of micronutrient management further during a one-day stakeholder workshop, which is expected to help identifying the potential and contents of a further knowledge agenda, which on its turn could catalyse innovations on micronutrient management. The Food & Business Knowledge Platform facilitates this process and collaborates with a small group of interested parties to prepare this workshop.

Issues to be taken into consideration

  1. Food and Nutrition: Malnutrition (hidden hunger) is currently addressed in different ways, including through dietary diversification, fortification of processed food, bio-fortification (breeding oriented towards enhancing the nutrient containing ability of crops), as well as through sanitary and health measures. These interventions have their merits and shortcomings1. Can agronomic fortification, i.e. through balanced micronutrient containing fertilizers add a complementary intervention to fight hidden hunger, while simultaneously improving food security?
  1. Soil fertility and balanced micronutrient containing fertilization: Soil fertility is highly variable and the challenge is to improve soil fertility management in specific situations. What could be the role of micronutrient enriched fertilizers in specific situations?
  1. Enabling conditions: The complexity of agro-food systems, and the development of targeted (and partial) solutions require that the micronutrient management solutions (including fertilizer development) are embedded in specific conditions at various scales from global to local. This means that various stakeholders have to be involved (private sector, research, development organisations, farmers, policy makers) and that knowledge management is important for a successful innovation process in this area.

Objectives of the stakeholder workshop

as catalyst for innovations on micronutrient management:

  1. Provide a platform to share information and discuss the most recent knowledge and innovations related to micronutrient management for improving harvests, farmers’ incomes, human nutrition, and the environment.
  2. Explore with stakeholders (private sector, research, development organisations, farmers, policy makers) whether there is potential for micronutrient containing fertilizers to contribute to improved yields, farmers income, human nutrition and the environment, and – if so – the conditions needed along the entire value chain to unlock this potential.
  3. Agree on development of a Community of Practice or a platform to catalyse processes of 1) increased public awareness about the importance of micronutrients through public debates, 2) build a community of practice of involved stakeholders, 3) (fostering) more systematic coordination of research. In future this may lead to the development of innovation programmes around micronutrients with special focus on low- and middle- income countries.

Programme (full day)

08:30        Arrival participants

09:00        Opening

  • Welcoming remarks. Coosje Hoogendoorn, Royal Tropical Institute (KIT), facilitator of the workshop
  • The potential of micronutrient applications in fertilizers. Prem Bindraban, Virtual Fertilizer Research Center

09:20       Recent research and case studies

Recent research and case studies on the value of micronutrients for improving harvests, human nutrition, and the environment.

  • Human nutrition. Saskia Osendarp, Micronutrient Initiative
  • Agronomic and soil fertility research. Shamie Zingore, International Plant Nutrition Institute, Nairobi
  • Plenary discussion about research findings and remaining knowledge questions

10:30       Coffee/tea break

11:00       Perspective of different stakeholders

The perspective of different stakeholders on the value of micronutrients. Existing policy and practice, and stakeholders’ knowledge questions.

  • Dutch government and international institutions. Wijnand van IJssel, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Private sector. Marc van Oers, Van Iperen International
  • Civil Society. Rik Overmars, SNV
  • Farmer perspective. Peter van Erp, SoilCares Research 
  • Plenary discussion with audience, also addressing remaining knowledge questions

12:15       Lunch break

13:15       Three parallel breakout groups

  • Micronutrient management for increased production and increased bioavailability of micronutrients in edible parts of produce. Chair: Ken Giller, Wageningen UR
  • Human health and nutrition issues related to micronutrient management. Chair: Inge Brouwer, Wageningen UR
  • Business models of various options to improve the management of micronutrients in value chains. Chair: Bart de Steenhuijsen Piter, Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) 

15:00       Coffee/tea break

15:30       Final plenary session

  • Reports from breakout groups
  • Discussion on remaining knowledge questions and opportunities for further collaboration, based on the following questions:
    • (Why) is further work around micronutrient management important? For whom?
    • What needs to be done next? Are there opportunities for a further knowledge agenda?
    • How will we do that? Is there interest in further collaboration, in a Community of Practice?
  • Final conclusions

16:30       Networking Cocktail


  • Professionals (preferably senior level) from government, industry, academia, civil society (including farmer organisations)
  • Technical background: mix of those with knowledge about plant production; some with livestock experience; about soil fertility; nutrition; economics; business.
  • Development background: mix of those with technical expertise (see above) and those with expertise about value chains, economics, agricultural markets, governance, gender.


Please download the essay (PDF) “Micronutrient management for improving harvests, human nutrition, and the environment” drafted by Anne W. de Valença & Anita Bake from Wageningen UR.

Last-minute registration

There are some places left for the Stakeholder Workshop on April 5, 2016. Last-minute registration is still possible by sending an email to . Registration closes Monday April 4, 2016 at 11:30 a.m.

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  1. 1. Food & Business Knowledge Platform collaborates with Netherlands Working Group on Nutrition on a knowledge agenda about Nutrition Security. See www.knowledge4food.net
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