2 Days Conference & Workshop Food Safety and Quality of Rice

Karachi: PARCSouthern-zone Agricultural Research Centre, keeping in view the current challenges related to the food organizes two days stakeholder conference cum training workshop on Food Safety & Quality of Rice: Current Scenarios, Challenges and Prospects for Improvement in collaboration with Mohammad Ali Jinnah University (MAJU) Karachi on June 14 & 15, 2022 at MAJU, Karachi. This event is conducted through the research project titled ‘Development of a System, Based on Preventive Approach to Address Food Safety Concerns in the Export of Pakistani Rice’ (ALP project/CS-410) being executed by Dr. Saqib Arif, Project PI/PSO, Dr. QurratulAin, ProjectCo-PI/SSO, Mr. Salman Khurshid, SO and other project team members of PARC-SARC, Karachi.

The event is graced by the representatives of R&D organizations, industries, growers, academia, regulatory & trade bodies and some international experts. Tentative program and invitation flyer of this event are enclosed herewith.

The conference inaugurated by the welcoming notes by Dr. Muhammad Meraj, Dean, Mohammad Ali Jinnah University (MAJU) and Prof. Dr. Zubair Sheikh, President MAJU, Karachi.The conferenceChief Guest is Prof.Dr. Fateh Muhammad Marri, Vice Chancellor, Sindh Agriculture University (SAU), Tandojam. Vote of Thanks by Dr. ZakirHussainDahri, Director General, PARC-SARC, Karachi.

The conference is addressed by the international and nationalexperts: Dr. Qasim Chaudhry, Visiting Professor, University of Chester/Ex-Principal Scientist, UK’s FERA, UK. Dr. Qasim discussed about ‘Pakistani rice in the international marketplace – quality & safety issues and future challenges. Prof.Dr. Zabta Khan Shinwari, T.I.; S.I. Professor Emeritus Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad talked about ‘Drought tolerance to overcome toxicity and ensuring food safety of rice’. Dr. Muhammad Yusuf, National Coordinator (Rice)/PD (Rice project), PARC, Islamabad shared his expertise for the Role of rice sector in Pakistan for national &global food security.  Pakistan rice genetic resources – Diversity for grain quality potential is discussed by Dr. Sadar Uddin Siddiqui, Ex-Member (PSD), PARC, Islamabad and Pakistan rice genetic resources – Diversity for grain quality potential by Dr. Sadar Uddin Siddiqui, Ex-Member (PSD), PARC, Islamabad.

Dr. Allah DittaAbid, PPA&DG, Department of Plant Protection, MNFSR, GoP, and Mr. Muhammad Anwar Mianoor, Senior Vice Chairman, Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP), Karachi also graced the occasion.

 

The project team also conducted training workshop on various important topics that included: rice quality constraints in relation to nutrition and food safety implications, pesticide residue 

contaminations in rice, Microbial association and their influence on rice quality, stored grain insect pests,aflatoxin contamination in Rice, microbial association and their influence on rice quality, rice starch: a value added product, red rice – a source of value addition, critical stages, associated factors and potential controlling measures.

The experts and scientists talked about various issues related to food safety and rice quality. They said that food safety is a global issue with public health and international trade implications. However, the developed countries have framed policies and regulations to ensure the food safety to the end users. Whereas, the developing nations are in the phase of transformation which is due to the emerging regulatory controls that face challenges of infrastructure, competency, legislation and management to address the issues efficiently.

 Consequently, the threats to the public health and exports have compounded over time despite the fact that agriculture is the main underpinning pillar of economy of a developing country like Pakistan. The agro-commodities like rice which is the second most significant export crop in Pakistan also being suffering from excessive levels of contaminants mainly aflatoxins and pesticide residues. As a result of violation of international standards for maintaining food safety concerns consignments of rice of Pakistan have been confiscated that has also been noticed in current year from EU. 

Rice is a staple food for almost half of the world’s population. Pakistan is amongst top five rice exporters and brings an average of 1.9 billion USD foreign exchange by exporting 4 million tons of rice every year. Unfortunately, Pakistan could not increase its share beyond 10% of the total world exports of rice.

Pakistan carries a huge potential as it produces both aromatic and non-aromatic rice varieties with sufficient quantities to serve the local as well as international markets. Besides other factors, the difficulties in meeting requirements of international standards for maintaining food safety concerns are one of the major causes of stagnant rice exports. Such challenges and economic losses due to trade rejections are largely affecting the exporters but are considerable for other stakeholders including growers. Thus, there is a dire need of creating awareness and increasing capacity on such alarming issues amongst stakeholders for minimizing the food safety risks and improvement in rice value chain for supporting public health and exports from the country.

This 2-day conference & training workshop has also provided the opportunity for the rice researchers to share their findings with the stake holders. About 30 research studies and poster abstracts focused on food safety and quality of rice were presented in this program. The young researchers were excited while presenting their work.

This platform provides an opportunity to the stakeholders to gain knowledge about current issues related to rice exports and their potential solutions by the project team and also by the national and international experts.