As many as 60 percent of Pakistan population are falling victims to food insecurity whereas 29 percent of the people are under the grip of swear hunger, demanding immediate steps on the part of all stakeholders to overcome this problem.
This was stated by scientists at an inaugural session of two-day International Food Conference titled “Future perspective of food processing industry in Pakistan”. It was arranged by Department of Food Sciences, Government College University Faisalabad on Tuesday with GCUF Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Zakir Hussain in the chair
Faculty of Science and Technology Dean Prof Dr Noureen Aziz Qureshi, University of Agriculture’s NIFSAT Director General Prof Dr Faqeer Anjum, Institute of Home and Food Science Director Dr Nighat Bhatty and Department of Food Sciences Incharge Dr Muhammad Umair Arshad Bajwa also spoke. GCUF Deans Prof Dr Shahbaz Arif, Dr Tahir Tounsvi, Prof Dr Pervez Azeem and MPA Muhammad Islam were also present on the stage.
Prof Dr Zakir Hussain stressed upon the all stakeholders to create a roadmap to address the issue at national level by giving awareness to the masses about the usage of balanced food and proper establishing the food industry. He said that food sector being a second largest industry of the country is contribution as many as 21 percent of gross domestic product of the country with 36.7 billion US dollar. The government has allocated US $ 142.4 million for the year 2012 to further enhance the productivity.
He stressed the need to ending the following the standards of food processing. The malnutrition is caused by lack of knowledge of balanced food, high illiteracy rate and poverty. Talking about wheat, he said that the wheat is a staple diet and constitutes 60 percent of the daily diet of a common man. He said increase in wheat has touched 25 million tonnes in 2011-12 from 22 million tonnes in 2008-09. But more steps are needed to further improve the situation.
He pointed out too much deficiencies of Vitamin D and Vitamins B exist in our population, producing malnutrition. The diet can play a major role in overcoming the situation by leading to a healthy life.
Prof Dr Faqeer Anjum said that Pakistan is blessed with best climate, four seasons and natural resources but we are still lagging behind in the food processing. He told the gathering that only 10 percent food is being processed that must be boosted up. He said the because of traditional way of treating, the county is losing 20 to 40 percent of food in post-harvest process. He also called for parameters to increase shelf life of various fruits and vegetables. He also lauded the establishment of Punjab Food Authority that will help ensure the quality food to people.
Prof Dr Noreen Aziz Qureshi said that quality food must be ensured by promoting the food processing industry across the country. She said that the conference is aimed at putting the heads of scientists and the industry to further improve the situation. She told that as many 135 research papers will be presented at the conference .
Dr Nighat Bhatty said that the growing population required new agricultural technologies to jack up the food production. There is a need to improve storage of existing food. She said that infant weaning foods may be introduced to uplift the nutritional health of growing children. She called for discouraging the junk food. She said that it is quite common to find small food processors using non-food grade colors which are injurious for the health.
Dr Muhammad Umair Arshad Bajwa said that holding of such conferences was the need of the hour to make find the solutions to various issues. He added that GCUF has emerged sixth best university in the Higher Education Commission’s ranking in a span of two year.
After that the GCUF Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Zakir Husain along with MPA Khwaja Islam, GCUF’s officials and scientists from other institutions inaugurated the 2nf Food Expo set up at GCUF’s Hockey Ground. At the Expo more than 50 companies have set up their stalls, attracting a large number of locals.
On the conference, the GCUF also inked two Memorandum of Understanding with Hilal Research Council and Sugar Confectionary Association to collaborate in the areas of research, field work and other mutual concerns.