Sunday, August 28, 2011


The cry by the processed food industry in India for adequately trained technical personnel who can be employed at reasonable salaries seems to have been heard if the recent report from TNAU regarding the launch of a new training program becomes a reality. There are several institutions/colleges which are providing graduate degree in food science and technology across the country, the intake students entering such places after the plus two stage and invariably these students are equipped to take up responsibilities for management of production, R & D and quality control. Unfortunately the food industry is reluctant to employ these "over qualified" graduates because of two considerations. First these graduates demand high salaries which are beyond the capability of the industry. Second, their utility is rather limited considering the real need on the manufacturing floor. The offer of a course by the Tamil Nadu Agri Varsity under the PG Diploma label is claimed to be in tune with industry requirement. Is this claim valid? Look at the details of the course being offered by them:

"The Directorate of Open and Distance learning, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU), will offer a PG Diploma in Food Science and Processing for the first time during the 2011-2012 academic year. The course deals with subjects like preservation and value addition techniques of food processing, a press release from TNAU said. As India faces a food security crisis, scientific methods of food processing are much needed for its preservation, conservation, quality enhancement, market attraction and to increase shelf-life. Ways to counter food pilferage and to add value to the perishable, fragile, consumable and non-perishable food will be taught. The course will focus on processing of convenience foods, like ready-to-use mixes, traditional foods, quality control and preventive measures, food products and development, packaging, labeling and brand-making. The course also covers subject areas like value addition on tomato-based products such as jams, jellies, sauces, pickles and savories. Furthermore, the course will deal with preparation of snack items, processing techniques of meat and meat products, egg products and dry fish. The course invites applications from various segments of the public. The qualification is any science degree. Duration of course is one year consisting of two semesters of six months duration each. Study materials will be provided in the form of books with self-learning content. Contact classes will be held during weekends. Medium of instruction is English. The application can be obtained either in person or by post. The application fee is Rs 250 and Rs 300. The last date of receipt of filled in application is August 29".

There are several questions, begging for answers. Is this course based on any study by the Varsity regarding the exact need of the industry? Who decided the course content and in what way the curriculum is different? What is sought to be achieved by conducting a course, claimed to be different from the B.Tech and M.Tech courses being run by many colleges in the country? Can an industry oriented technical program requiring considerable on-hand training, be conducted through distance learning mode? Probably the Varsity cannot be faulted for starting this course in absence of a national consensus regarding what the industry really needs and how much is needed giving a free had to all teaching "shops" to start any course without any relation to the user need. It is time AICTE the apex organization for technical education in the country constitute a separate wing under its aegis to look into the personnel needs of food industry and evolve training programs at undergraduate, graduate and post graduate levels based on expert assessment.


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