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Pakistan top recipient of IAEA technical help: PAEC
Tuesday, July-26-2005

ISLAMABAD (July 26 2005): Pakistan has become the highest recipient of IAEA technical assistance among the member-states by virtue of its active participation in the IAEA Technical Co-operation Programme, extensive expert services, and training to IAEA fellows at PAEC establishments.

Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) Chairman Pervez Butt stated this, while inaugurating a one-week PAEC/IAEA Research Co-ordination Workshop on 'Irradiation of Fruits and Vegetables to ensure hygienic quality, and enhancing their shelf life', here on Monday.

He said around 20 technical co-operation projects, funded by the IAEA, are currently operational at various PAEC's institutes and based upon their competence and credibility, some of the PAEC's labs at Pinstech have been declared as Regional Resource Unit of IAEA.

This ever-increasing expansion of Technical Assistance Programme is due to recognition by IAEA of our excellent utilisation of the assistance, he added.

Speaking on the necessity of putting up irradiation plants to enhance the shelf life of fruits and vegetables, Butt said a big part of these items is wasted because of their small natural shelf life, and by enhancing the same through the use of irradiation would bring better returns to the farmers and a continued supply for a longer time to the consumers.

The extension of shelf life and microbiological safety through the application of nuclear technology will not only offer longer export proceedings in fresh condition, but also find better acceptability by the consumers abroad as it will satisfy hygienic requirements of WTO regime, he said.

The PAEC chief said all the provinces have placed the requirement of setting up food irradiation plants at many zones and the PAEC is fully capable of meeting this demand through indigenous manufacturing, installation and operations as per strict international requirements.

Butt said that agriculture is the backbone of the national economy, but its dividends can be multiplied manifold only through technical support services towards enhancement of production, preservation, and value addition.

PAEC (Biosciences) Member Dr Kauser Abdullah Malik, in his address of welcome, said the PAEC has focused its research on agriculture, health, and environment for long.

"We put up an irradiation plant in 1987 at Lahore which is providing sterilisation services for surgical and medical goods and we are running 13 cancer hospitals benefiting more than 350,000 cancer patients annually. We have also evolved more than 50 high-yield food and cash crops which are fetching billions of additional income to the farmers", he added.

IAEA Exper, Dr Tatiana Rubio-Cabello said that IAEA project for commercial irradiation plants involves active joint research between member-states which have generated valuable information in this regard.

The food preservation is an issue of economic worth and irradiation is a good alternative for this purpose, she added.

The director, PAEC Nuclear Institute for Food and Agriculture, Peshawar, Sanaullah Khattak, said that his centre has contributed significantly to reducing post-harvest losses of crops and eco-friendly technology for pest control.

Courtesy Associated Press of Pakistan

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