Safer Food and Disease Free Crops are the targets to ensure Food Security, Chairman PARC

Islamabad :   (Parliament Times)   Aflatoxin is a serious threat to food security by infecting many of Pakistan’s
agricultural products, including cereal grains, chilies, dry fruits and nuts, and milk. It is produced
by a poisonous fungus. The fungus can infect crops before and after harvest as well as infect
animal products if infected feeds are given to livestock. To address this problem, the  US
Department of Agriculture  (USDA), introduced its biological control technology and its
Pakistani subsidiary is  Rafhan Maize . Technical support is being provided by CABI and
the  National Agricultural Research Centre  (NARC) in Pakistan.
With Rafhan Maize, USDA has developed a bio-control product, called AflaPak,
formulated specifically to reduce aflatoxin in maize grown in Pakistan. AflaPak uses safe non-
aflatoxin producing strains of the fungus (Aspergillus flavus) to outcompete the deadlier aflatoxin
producing strains. Farmers apply AflaPak™ to their plants during the flowering stage and before
the toxic fungus strains can grow and colonize the maize.
The Aflatoxin Control Laboratory at Crop Diseases Research Institute (CDRI), NARC
has been established in collaboration with CBI financed by USDA. Inauguration Ceremony of
Aflatoxin Lab was held at CDRI, NARC and Dr. Muhammad Azeem Khan, Chairman, PARC
was the Chief Guest. Verification of atoxigenic strain-based product (AlfaPak) for mitigating
aflatoxin in Maize and Development of atoxigenic based products for mitigating aflatoxin in
Chilies and Groundnut are the objectives of the lab.

While Addressing to the inaugural session of the Lab, Dr. Muhammad Azeem Khan said
that Aflatoxin Control Laboratory is first of its own kind in Pakistan to mitigate aflatoxin in Maize
and as a centre of excellence for mitigating the alflatoxin menace in the country this will open
new windows for other crops like chilies, groundnut and dried fruits. The Chairman expressed
that safer food and disease free crops are the targets to ensure food security in the Country.
Aflatoxin is contaminating crops produced in Pakistan. The Chairman further added that
Pakistan is an agriculture based economy and horticulture is an important industry of this sector.
Prevalence of aflatoxins in fresh produce commodities at the time of consumption is one of the
growing food safety concerns. Aflatoxins are found in fresh produce commodities grown in
Pakistan. There remains a need to conduct a supply chain focused comprehensive research
study on assessment of aflatoxins in the major fresh produce commodities of Pakistan.

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