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close this bookInterfaces between Agriculture, Nutrition, and Food Science (UNU, 1984, 406 pages)
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From research and development to industry

C.P. Natarajan

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:

  1. Minimizing qualitative and quantitative losses during harvest and post-harvest handling, drying and protection.
  2. Devising and utilizing pre-cleaning devices to supply the market with clean and packaged raw produce.
  3. Improving milling yields by optimizing appropriate drying and milling procedures, and also by improving milling equipments.
  4. Adaptation of processing procedures to ensure freedom from contamination, and good nutrition and acceptability.
  5. Evolving techniques of food decontamination and detoxification.
  6. By-product utilization.
  7. Energy-saving to reduce production cost.
  8. 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 primary producers.
  9. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 society.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.