Quinoa expert requests machines and sweet quinoa from China
by Ju Ran
Faisalabad, April 2 (Gwadar Pro) - "For me, quinoa is a super grain. It's a climate-resilient crop and some varieties are easily adaptable in salt-affected land or the desert. Up to now, we haven't found any insect attack of it," said Dr. Irfan Afzal, associate professor at the University of Agriculture, Faisalabad（UAF), who is currently promoting quinoa in Pakistan.
"Increased food demand for a burgeoning population, water shortage and increasing salinization and malnutrition on the consumption of only traditional cereals are the major challenges for the food and nutritional security in the world including Pakistan." Irfan believes that those troubles can be addressed by promoting quinoa production and conception in daily diet. "It is gluten free and has an extraordinary nutritional profile. Pakistan can also export it to Europe due to its better quality and lower cost of production as well as the stronger logistic support compared with the South American countries."
According to Irfan, quinoa was first introduced in Pakistan in 2009 with the import of 164 lines from USDA and Denmark. 10 lines which have a minimum yield of up to 1.5 tons per hectare were elected for the experimentation. "Last year, the first quinoa variety UAF Q7 given by our research group was approved for general cultivation. This year, quinoa has been cultivated on about 1,000 acres land in Punjab."
Dr. Irfan Afzal in the quinoa field（Photo provided by Irfan Afzal）
"Last year we have organized a few workshops on quinoa production and promotion. The officer of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization visited me and showed his interest in collaboration on quinoa in the regions. I am keen to devote myself to this crop with the collaboration of other international researchers. By the way, David Wu is promoting quinoa on large scale in China and he is known as the king of quinoa." Irfan expressed his expectation of stronger collaboration under the CPEC and pointed out some promising directions. "Number one is quinoa breeding program. The second is the exchange of germplasm for their adaptability across multi-locations in Pakistan. The third thing is that the joint vital approval program should be initiated in Pakistan with the collaboration of Chinese researchers."
"In Pakistan, we need mechanization, we have no proper machines. Last year we introduced a quinoa seed drill imported from China. Proper harvest (machine) and color-sorting machines are also needed." In his opinion, Pakistan is still new in quinoa production and promotion, and supports are needed from other more experienced countries. "I have seen some Chinese researchers introduced sweet quinoa with low saponin. I'm interested to introduce those varieties to Pakistan with the help of Chinese researchers." He said.