Dr. Irfan Afzal's Profile
Dr. Afzal is a young scientist with much energy who is passionate about seed science research and discovery of new climate resilient crops like quinoa in Pakistan. He has been serving as Associate Professor in the Department of Agronomy, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad and leading the Seed Physiology Lab, which focuses on basic and strategic research on seed physiology and strengthening human resource development through training courses and workshops in Pakistan. A particular strength of Afzal’s research program is the integration of seed science research with the recent issues of local seed industry. In 2008, he was awarded the Fulbright scholarship to conduct research on seed respiration germination models at the University of California, Davis. He has presented his research work in various international scientific meetings in the U.S., Australia, Poland, Spain, Malaysia, Turkey and India. He won the Australian Endeavour Award in 2010, TWAS fellowship in 2015, Endeavour Executive Award in 2016 and has been awarded with the Research Productivity Award by Ministry of Science and Technology of the Government of Pakistan for the last four yours. He has been actively involved in various research projects funded by national and international agencies. He is the founder of Pakistan Seed Academy for strengthening the interaction between public and private seed sectors in the country and highly thankful to Pakistan-U.S. Alumni Network for providing small grant to take this initiative.
Implementing Dry Chain Technology for Food Security in Pakistan
Improved food quality, nutritional content, safety and security are concerns throughout the world. In addition, rising populations have focused attention on increasing crop yields to meet growing demand for food. However, one-third of the total food produced for human consumption in Africa and Asia, is lost globally during production, postharvest storage, processing and distribution. About 80 million tons of food grains are damaged by molds and insects each year due to poor postharvest management in the breadbasket regions of Asia. Storage at high moisture content and high relative humidity conditions allow fungal and insect growth that produce highly toxic compounds such as aflatoxin which cause immune system suppression, growth retardation and death in both humans and domestic animals. Solving the problems of food spoilage and aflatoxin accumulation in storage would have enormous health benefits for the affected people. The Dry Chain involves drying of the seeds and other dry commodities (cereals, pulses, nuts) as soon as possible after harvest followed by hermetic packaging to maintain dryness until used in the value chain. While this relatively simple procedure would largely prevent or mitigate postharvest losses of dry commodities. No large infrastructural or energy investments are needed to maintain the Dry Chain as compared to the Cold Chain that is used for fresh products, which requires continuous refrigeration in warehouses, trucks, and markets and associated reliable energy supplies. Implementation of the climate-smart Dry Chain concept has far-reaching consequences to improve food safety, security, nutrition and animal and human health.
Dr. Irfan Afzal
University of Agriculture, Faisalabad
University of California, Davis