From research and development to industry
During the past two days the interphases among agriculture, food science, and
nutrition have been amplified. The need for constant interaction among breeders,
post-harvest technologists, nutritionists, and extension specialists was clearly
established. The interaction is very essential to evolve a systems approach
leading to increased production levels and optimum utilization without
sacrificing nutritional qualities.
Agricultural production as a policy should plan for meeting the requirements
of bulk consumption, buffer stock, industry, and export. The main stress,
however, will continue to be that of meeting the needs of our large population.
Research and development should focus on the following:
- Minimizing qualitative and quantitative losses during harvest and
post-harvest handling, drying and protection.
- Devising and utilizing
pre-cleaning devices to supply the market with clean and packaged raw
- Improving milling yields by optimizing appropriate drying and
milling procedures, and also by improving milling equipments.
- Adaptation of processing procedures to ensure freedom from contamination,
and good nutrition and acceptability.
- Evolving techniques of food
decontamination and detoxification.
- By-product utilization.
- Energy-saving to reduce production cost.
- Product development and
the recommendation of alternate and appropriate technologies designed to meet
socio-economic needs, and bring higher returns and purchasing power to the
- Developing and encouraging of primary producers
co-operatives to co-ordinate production and processing so that the maximum
benefit will accrue to them.
Apart from these direct R&D tasks, other efforts at several interfaces
are called for, as follows:
- A mechanism should be evolved for constituting a Board with
specialists in agriculture, food science, nutrition and socio-economics to
interact at the beginning of any R&D, and to evolve and assign problems for
solution. Such boards should meet as frequently as necessary to review progress
in each field. At the time of release of a new food-grain variety to the public,
all components of its production and use should have been studied in depth.
- Studies on the technological requirements of grains are of recent origin in
the country, and it is necessary to strengthen R&D to study in detail all
technological parameters. However a beginning can be made even with the fund of
knowledge now available, which I had mentioned in brief in my lead paper during
the inauguration of this workshop.
With reference to coarse grains, studies
on physio-chemical features, milling qualities, water uptake by flour, study of
the carbohydrate moiety, stored product insects and other pests are important
areas of R&D. Each one of these should establish a strong reciprocal link
with plant breeders.
Likewise, for each crop, horticultural produce and
animal produce, desirable parameters can be enunciated with available knowledge,
even though the information may not be complete. Generation of data relating to
such interphases will be an important area of R&D in future.
- Socio-economic marketing studies are important to understand the positive
and negative impacts of any new technology on society. In turn R&D should
modify and rectify any defects shown by such studies.
- There is an
urgent need to standardize equipment for de-stoning, cleaning, and grading
grains at both producers' level and market level to ensure that clean food will
be available ready for the market. Sufficient employment potentials will also be
created in villages, and an appropriate infrastructure built for the above
operations as an agro-industry.
- Development of appropriate technology
packages, which will include marketing for application under rural, semi-urban
and urban areas, should form a part of the interphase study between agriculture
and food technology.
- The United Nations University can also play an
important role by initiating fellowships at R&D and other appropriate
institutions directed to working on interphase problems in the agriculture, food
science, nutrition, and socio-economic areas. Such scholarly studies have
immense possibilities in bringing out problems for R&D, and would help
partially to fulfil the UN University's goal in respect of hunger and
- Scientists in the field of agriculture, food technology, and
nutrition should be given due hearing during national policy-making in food
production and conservation strategy.
- With the changing pattern of
society and increase in population, it will be necessary to foresee the
requirements in agricultural production, decide on crops to be raised, and
dovetail the requirements of process technology with such needs. Futuristic
study of ways with which to meet the national needs in AD 2000 should begin now,
with the interaction of agriculturists, food, and nutrition scientists, and
socio-economists to evolve strategies to provide safe, healthy and adequate food
for the population.