Pakistani Scientist Takes Third Place
In the field of scientific research and innovation, recognition and appreciation play a crucial role in encouraging scientists to push boundaries and develop groundbreaking solutions. Recently, the International Innovation Award ‘Composite Flour’ announced its winners, and among them was Dr. Saqib Arif, a Pakistani scientist who secured the third place. This prestigious award recognizes innovative approaches to the sustainable use of wheat and local agricultural commodities. Dr. Saqib Arif, serving as a Principal Scientific Officer at the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council in Karachi, received a token of appreciation and acknowledgment in the form of €2,000.
Unleashing the Potential of Composite Flour
Dr. Saqib Arif’s research focused on exploring the potential of composite flour, which involves combining underused grains as a response to the global rise in wheat prices and growing sustainability concerns. The findings of his study revealed that mixed flours offer a superior nutrition profile, boasting high fiber content and bioactive compounds. This makes composite flour a promising alternative that can help reduce dependence on wheat. However, challenges still exist, particularly related to processability and sensory characteristics.
The Global Significance of Wheat
Wheat holds a prominent position as a staple food, playing a vital role in meeting dietary requirements across the globe. Approximately two-thirds of the world’s population relies on wheat, rice, and corn. However, the escalating cost of wheat presents a significant challenge worldwide, impacting countries like Pakistan. Despite being an agricultural nation, Pakistan faces difficulties in meeting its domestic wheat demand and increasingly depends on imports.
Various factors contribute to this situation, including climate change, population growth, rising input and production costs, weak supply chains, and market dynamics. Wheat flour finds extensive usage in numerous products such as bread, cookies, pasta, pastries, crackers, breakfast cereals, noodles, cupcakes, and more. This heavy reliance on wheat flour raises concerns about sustainability.
A Collaborative Research Effort
Dr. Saqib Arif’s research team comprises dedicated scientists who are actively working on implementing corrective measures to minimize the challenges associated with blending flours. The team includes Dr. Qurrat ul Ain Akbar (Senior Scientific Officer, PARC), Salman Khurshid (Scientific Officer, PARC), Mehwish Iqbal (Scientific Officer, PARC), and Saba Iqbal (PhD Scholar). They are investigating the application of enzymes and pretreatments to enhance the processability and sensory characteristics of composite flour while also exploring more indigenous sources.
The research team firmly believes that one effective strategy to reduce reliance on wheat is to explore potential alternatives. Composite flour emerges as a vibrant and practical solution in this regard, offering an opportunity to decrease dependence on wheat flour while reaping health benefits. By incorporating a blend of various flours derived from legumes, tubers, grains, and other sources, composite flour presents a promising approach to diversify our food sources and promote a healthier diet.
Celebrating Innovation: The International Innovation Award ‘Composite Flour’
The International Innovation Award ‘Composite Flour’ is organized by MC Muhlenchemie, Germany, the world’s leading flour treatment specialist, on the occasion of its 100th anniversary. This esteemed award aims to honor scientific studies and practice-focused projects completed between 2019 and 2022 that provide innovative solutions in the production and processing of non-wheat flours and their blends with wheat flour, especially those utilizing local raw materials.
The award-winning research projects are evaluated by an international jury comprising esteemed scientists and industry experts. In this edition of the award, 23 finalists from four continents showcased their research, and Dr. Saqib Arif’s work stood out among the top three winners, highlighting the significance of his contributions to the field.
Dr. Saqib Arif’s remarkable achievement in securing the third place in the International Innovation Award ‘Composite Flour’ demonstrates the immense potential of scientific research in finding sustainable solutions for global challenges. His work on composite flour offers a promising alternative to reduce dependence on wheat while providing a nutritionally superior option. This recognition serves as an inspiration to scientists around the world, encouraging them to continue their pursuit of innovative solutions that can reshape our future.