The present state of research in food processing area can at best be termed pathetic with neither clear direction nor seriousness and commitment. Hundreds of publications in the field of food science that emanate from the research and teaching institutions in the country are totally irrelevant to the needs of the food industry and therefore are ignored by the potential users. Against such a back ground the recent MoU signing between a University in Canada and a little known GOI research set up in Tamilnadu makes amusing reading. IICPT, practically a non-entity in the food field, with no industry connections is sought to be projected by the MFPI as a "high performing" research outfit, obviously to side line others with better credentials. Here is a take on the photo opportunity provided by the MoU signing "ceremony"!
"The Indian Institute of Crop Processing Technology (IICPT) Monday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the University of Saskatchewan, Canada, for collaborative research and training in the field of food processing and exchange of faculty and students. The MoU was signed here by IICPT director K. Alagasundaram and Venkatesh Meda, professor of bioprocess engineering at the university, on behalf of the Canadian institute. Food Processing Industries Minister Subodh Kant Sahai and Saskatchewan's Education Minister Rob Norris were present on the occasion. 'This agreement will help in the development of post-harvest management and food processing (in India) and a lot of exchanges of scientists, teachers and students will take place,' Sahai told the media after the signing of the MoU. The minister said the University of Saskatchewan has partnerships with over 150 business houses for new innovations in food technology, food taste and food products".
It is beyond one's comprehension as to what a foreign University can do to facilitate food research in India where the needs and problems are totally different from those obtaining in their country. How will they comprehend problems like processing indigenous fruits grown in the country or the preservation of traditional foods or the working of thousands of cottage scale food industries scattered all over the country dealing with local products? The collaborating institution IICPT was just a paddy processing research center till recently and by renaming it as IICPT does not enhance its competence and capability. One wonders why MFPI ignored its high profile "child" NIFTEM while considering a counterpart in India for collaboration. Such uncoordinated, unimaginative, unplanned, short sighted and thoughtless approach is not going to make any impact and can result only in wasting nation's precious time and resources.