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November 21, 2020

Alternative crops stressed for meeting demand of rising population


November 21, 2020

FAISALABAD: Speakers at a workshop Friday called for ensuring food and nutrition security by promoting high-resistant alternative crops and super food to meet the demands of increasing population and to curb malnutrition.

The workshop was organised by the Department of Agronomy, University of Agriculture Faisalabad in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organisation.

Addressing the workshop, the speakers called for the promotion Quinoa as alternative crop for food.

UAF Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Iqrar Ahmad Khan said Quinoa was maintaining a nutritional profile and its health benefits are high compared to wheat, maize and rice.

He said we should benefit from the alternative crops to meet our local demands and capture international markets.

He said Quinoa is also high in fiber, magnesium, B vitamins, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin E and various beneficial antioxidants. He said there is a need to develop local seed producer to meet the country demand.

The VC said seven million hectares in the country was salt-affected. Quinoa has climate-resilient behaviour and is well adapted to frost, salinity and drought conditions.

He said we have to refine its quality and increase the per acre production in the country.

Dean Faculty of Agriculture Dr Javed Akhtar stressed upon the participants to expedite the efforts for the food security in the country. He was of the view that the country was blessed with four seasons, fertile land and natural resources. He said Quinoa can be cultivated in drought-affected or salinity-stressed areas.

He said Quinoa is gluten-free, high in protein and one of the few plant foods that contain sufficient amounts of all essential amino acids. He said we have to introduce various dishes of the Quinoa to promote its among the people.

FAO Representative Bou Zhou said that China is one of the largest of the Quinoa producer. He said that being the super food, it will help in the nutritional deficiency in the countries. He said that Japan is one of the largest importer of Quinoa.

FAO representative Dr Shakeel Khan said it is highly national value crop that must be promoted among the farming community and in the society to curb with the issue of malnutrition. He said they were making all possible measures to promote among the farming community. He maintained that in the stakeholder meeting, the people around the country was participating.

Chairman Agronomy Department Dr Shahzad Basra said that Quinoa is a gluten free food and demand of the gluten free food is increasing worldwide. He said malnutrition was area of concern for which expedited efforts are needed. He said Punjab Seed Council has approved the first quinoa variety “UAF-Q7” in the country.

The researchers from University of Agriculture, Faisalabad (UAF) have been working on various aspects since 2009 and UAF-Q7 showed the best performance in terms of a higher yield of up to 3 tonnes per hectare. Dr Irfan Afzal said promotion of alternative crops would also help ensure the food security and to alleviate the hunger from the country.

He said Quinoa global seed market is likely to grow from $782 million in 2017 to $1.33 billion by 2025. European countries have been increasing the import of Quinoa seeds for the past few years as it is considered a healthy alternative to more popular options. Addition of Quinoa as an export item would be an advantage for exporters to overcome the gap of less utilisation of rice in the coming years.