FAISALABAD - Sixty percent of the Pakistanis are facing food insecurity whereas 29 percent are in the grip of swear starvation, said scientists while demanding immediate steps to overcome the problem, during an international food conference here.

The moot was titled “Future Perspective of Food Processing Industry in Pakistan”. It was arranged by the Department of Food Sciences, the Government College University Faisalabad and presided over by GCUF Vice Chancellor Dr Zakir Hussain.

The VC urged all the stakeholders to create a roadmap to address the issue at the national level by giving awareness to the masses about the usage of balanced food and proper establishment of food industry. He said that food sector being a second largest industry of the country is contributing 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 added.

Dr Faqeer Anjum said that Pakistan is blessed with the 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 fruit and vegetables. He lauded the establishment of Punjab Food Authority that what he called will help ensure the provision of quality food to the people.

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 said that 135 research papers will be presented at the conference. Dr Nighat Bhatty said that the growing population requires 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 said that holding of such conferences was the need of hour to find solutions to various issues.

On the occasion, the GCUF also inked two memorandums of understanding with Hilal Research Council and Sugar Confectionary Association to collaborate in the areas of research, field work and other mutual concerns.