ISLAMABAD: Agricultural Engineering Institute of Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC) has designed and installed a demonstration unit of ispaghol (Psyllium) processing plant at National Agricultural Research Centre (NARC).
The plant was inaugurated by the Chairman, PARC in a ceremony, which was also attended by the senior management of PARC, directors and scientists .
The machinery was locally designed and manufactured by the engineers of Agricultural Engineering Institute (AEI), said a press release.
Addressing the participants Chairman, PARC said that ispaghol is a herb with different medicinal and industrial uses. Ispaghol seed husk is used for treatment of various stomach ailments and also being used in food industry.
In Pakistan, this crop is grown in Umerkot, Mirpurkhas and parts of Sanghar district in Sindh province and some areas of Cholistan and Thal desert in Punjab, he said adding that his crop is currently grown on 3,000 acres.
The demand of ispaghol husk has been increasing day by day in the country, he said adding that to meet the local consumption demand, Pakistan imports a large amount of ispaghol from other countries despite the fact that the country has a great potential to produce this crop more the 30,000 acres to meet the domestic need and to export to the world.
Chairman PARC appreciated the work done of engineers of AEI, scientists and technical staff of the institute, PARC stressed that on use advanced technology, we cannot make much progress in agricultural mechanization and post harvest processing machinery.
He also suggested to link machines with computerized control systems and artificial intelligence (AI) for better visualization and controlling processes.
The Director General (AED) told the participants that conventionally, ispaghol is being processed using traditional methods.
Hasilpur area of the Punjab province is the hub of local ispaghol processing and its marketing. Large numbers of families of this area are involved in ispaghol processing at domestic level, he said adding that the first version of the technology was demonstrated in Hasilpur in 2018, where a large number of farmers, manufacturers, ispaghol processors, policy makers, and scientists participated and witnessed the performance of the plant.
Director NARC, Dr. Hafiz Sultan briefed the Chairman and participants that unit has designed and developed indigenous ispaghol cleaning, de-bearding, de-husking and classifying machines.
The complete ispaghol processing plant can process 1 tonne ispaghol seed per day, he added.