modern food processing knowledge and problem solving skillsWhat skills and knowledge do you hope to gain from your proposed programme of study?
Why are the skills and knowledge you have described above important to your country's development?
My proposed programme of study is Food Technology which relates to the study subject recommended for my country "Food security and Agriculture" as it deals with the processing, preserving and manufacturing of safe, wholesome and nutritious food products thereby making food available and accessible to individuals.
During my proposed progamme of study, I specifically hope to acquire an in-depth knowledge of modern food processing and preservation techniques (such as canning, freezing, dehydration, irradiation, high pressure processing, etc) needed to produce safe, nutritious, wholesome and desirable foods. Old methods by which foods are being processed and preserved in Nigeria by famers include smoking, curing, salting, refrigeration and roasting which is time consuming, laborious and inefficient.
Currently, I own a cashew farm and our activities involve planting, storage and processing of cashew nuts. Most cashew farmers rely on traditional storage and packaging techniques such as use of wooden boxes, sacks and jute which damages food produce. As the chief executive/operating officer, I hope to acquire an in-depth knowledge of emerging post-harvest storage and packaging techniques of these fresh agricultural produce such as modified atmosphere packaging, application of robotic and machineries, vacuum packaging, etc.
I also feel I need to develop my skill in research, problem solving and creative thinking which will enable me to recognize problems and their causes, and then proffer possible solutions. This will also help me to identify some of the underutilized agricultural plants in Nigeria and look out for possible ways to add value to them.
According to Ministry of Agriculture and Rural development, the current challenges facing the agricultural sector in Nigeria includes poor post harvest and storage infrastructures, dormant research facilities and limited food processing technologies. Nigeria produces millions of tonnes of raw food materials that can be transformed into various usable products for local and export markets; however, the food processing industry in the country lacks adequate post harvest infrastructural facilities and technologies for the processing and storage of these foods which results to enormous food wastage particularly perishable commodities. Also, according to the Nigeria's voice, Nigeria wastes foods worth $750bn yearly while 30-40% of the many foods produced are ultimately wasted leaving millions of the population to high prevalence of hunger. Food Aid International (FAI) has it that about 3,000 people die daily of hunger. Out of the country's population of 180 million, nearly 14 million go hungry daily with half of them being underfed. Also, according to the Federation of Agricultural Commodity Association of Nigeria (FACAN), food waste in Nigeria is due to poor food processing and preservation techniques. Therefore, the skills and knowledge described are important in order to reposition these agricultural developmental challenges in the country, increase food availability and also reduce the ecological footprint of food production for human consumption. They are also of importance so as to help reduce food waste/losses, increase the level of food processing technology and bring about value addition which will further reduce the high rate of hunger in the country.