Saturday, December 10, 2011


Why is that R & D in food technology in India does not blossom in spite of billions of rupees of investment by the government during the last 5 decades? The answer is straight and simple. "Ivory tower" research with no user value is to be blamed for this malaise. If industrial research is to be relevant, the researchers must have organic linkage with the industry concerned which only can ensure that the efforts are beneficial to the actual users. An institution like the DRDO is a captive research organization of the Defense Forces and all R & D projects taken up are vetted by them before actual investment. It is another matter that even in this case enormous wastage of human and financial resources does take place due to many reasons.  Singapore is no doubt a small country but its forward looking policies have set it apart as a modern country with vision. Here is the latest example of its enterprising spirit as exemplified by its investment on a food industry oriented program with potential to achieve a quantum jump in the performance of this sector soon.   

"A new S$7-million facility will be unveiled on Wednesday at the Singapore Polytechnic (SP) to test local food products on a smaller scale before they are produced commercially. The new facility of the Food Innovation and Resource Centre comes with state-of-the-art processing and packaging equipment. It has four main sections including a cooking studio and a consumer suite for work in meats, ready-to-eat meals, sauces and beverages. There is also a section for Asian specialty sweets and bakery products. Launched in 2007 to cater to the needs of local food enterprises, the centre is a joint initiative between SPRING Singapore and SP. SP said it has engaged over 260 companies and overseen more than 250 consultancy projects to date. The new facility is expected to enable the centre to help more small and medium enterprises grow their businesses to create value-added products and services to compete in the global market. Mr Tan Hang Cheong, SP Principal, said: "The increasing sophistication and competitive pressures in the food and beverage market means that the centre needs to evolve in order to continue its support for the industry."

Is India resource-constrained to think and do similar things for the benefit of the country? Absolutely not! In fact all GOI Ministries work with plenty of funds and most of them find it difficult to spend the budgeted amounts within the stipulated time due to poverty of ideas and bureaucratic mindset of the babus  who manage them. Other wise how can any one explain the attitude of GOI in allowing a once reputed food R & D organization like CFTRI at Mysore to become redundant by not providing dynamic leadership and vibrant scientific staff with far sighted ideas to provide back-end support to the food industry in the country most of which are in the unorganized sector? Look at the suicidal action of this institute in systematically closing its regional outfits, in stead of expanding the existing network across all the states. Even now it is not too late to strengthen this institute through firm linkages with the food industry through a mutually respecting partnership. The doors of this institute must be thrown wide open with no restriction on inter action with entrepreneurs and industry players without bothering too much about "earning' money. The scientists have to be imbibed with a spirit of bon homie, in stead of hostility and suspicion with the industry and such a strategic alliance between the institution and the industry can beat every nation on this earth when it comes to development food industry.



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