Food Science Curriculum Development Initiative
Rakesh Singh
Professor and Department Head
Department of Food Science & Technology
University of Georgia

The Agricultural Innovation Partnership (AIP) project aims to improve food availability, nutrition and health in Northern India, while providing opportunities for diversification of income and consequent economic and social advancement of the rural poor and women in particular. A component of the AIP project is to improve agricultural curriculum at Indian SAUs. AIP partners have collaborated on the development of curricula courses in food science, animal science, and agriculture and the remodeling of undergraduate and post graduate degrees to expose students to agri-enterprise creation and management. Such multidisciplinary exposure to students will help to prepare them to more fully meet the needs of the farmers, and it will trigger agri-preneurship among students to create small rural enterprises.

In the area of food science curriculum development, AIP partners first evaluated the overall objectives of the academic curriculum. Essentially, all food science students should study the fundamentals of physical, chemical, and biological nature of foods and the principles of food processing. These concepts are used in selection, preservation, processing, packaging, and distribution of safe, nutritious and wholesome foods. Therefore, the curriculum must include fundamental sciences and technological aspects of the food supply. In India, the challenges for the food preservation, distribution and processing sectors are diverse and demanding, and need to be addressed on several fronts. Indian Food Science professionals need to develop sufficient awareness and appreciation of the relevant principles of life sciences, and physical sciences, as well as other topics including: nutrition, preservation and storage techniques, processing operations, bio-processing, waste management, supply chain management, and food regulations.

Currently, Food Science is being offered at some Indian universities in different forms such as Food Science, Food Technology, Food Engineering, and Agricultural Engineering with specialization in Food Engineering. Another version is being offered as Foods & Nutrition, mostly in Home Science colleges. This trend has made Food Science and Technology of a secondary importance as a part of a broad agricultural science curriculum. There is an urgent need to offer and strengthen an undergraduate program in Food Science and Technology in each Indian university. The potential exists for the agri-food industry to improve process efficiency, enhance product quality and, extend shelf-life of fresh and processed agri-food products by hiring the graduates from modernized curriculum.

In an effort to address these challenges, AIP worked with Banaras Hindu University (BHU), and selected SAUS, to (1) design the food science curriculum through faculty training, and (2) develop the course structure for proposed certification programs for agricultural extension professionals in association with designated Indian faculty.

Objectives
• To produce internationally competitive and skilled manpower in food science and technology for industry, research and development, self-employment, and regulatory agencies.

• To develop and impart new technological and entrepreneurial skills and expertise in the area of processing and value addition for higher economic returns.

• To enhance students skills through experiential learning and in-plant training.

Career Opportunities

Career options include positions in the food processing and manufacturing industries, post-harvest engineering and technology, food research and development, product development, quality control, and self-employment. In food processing industries, graduates can work as managers in start-up companies, supply chain, food retail, and operational workforce and as strategic planners. The food biotechnology is another emerging area having great potential. The graduates can work in modern food ingredient manufacturing companies producing food additives, enzymes, peptides, stabilizers, emulsifiers, etc. and in brewing and fermentation. The food industry is increasingly becoming more focused on health foods and graduates of this program will be able to work in the hospitality sector and food service industry. Food regulations are another important and emerging area in India but there are very few good graduates available to handle the relevant regulatory issues. These graduates will also be equipped with necessary entrepreneurial skills to embark upon new businesses of world-wide utility.

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