In an interview with Hindustan Times, Ajit Kumar, Vice Chancellor, National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management (NIFTEM) talks about how the premier institute will work actively in the field of food technology and management. Excerpts.
What is the current status of the food processing sector in India?
India is the largest producer and consumer of food products. Food processing industry is one of the largest industries in India and is ranked fifth in terms of production, consumption and export. In such a scenario food processing can be considered as the 'sunrise sector', which is evolving as driver of the Indian economy. In spite of global meltdown, the food processing sector kept growing at 15.9 % during last year. As the buying capacity of young generation continues to improve the demand for good quality food will never go down, so the sector is bound to grow manifold in future.
Can you briefly elaborate on the history of NIFTEM? What is its mandate?
Fifteen years ago India did not have access to advanced technology for farming sector. There were technical as well as managerial problems. Industry was not trained and there was no skilled manpower due to which the nation suffered losses. There was lack of research work and the industry did not have place to train people. Therefore, the idea of NIFTEM was coined by the Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI) in 2006 and it was approved by the Cabinet. The objectives of NIFTEM include to work as a one stop solution provider for developing product, product invention, providing consultancy, to work for skill development and entrepreneurship development, to facilitate business incubation services, to train people who will work on the shop floor, to upgrade small and micro enterprises. To meet these objectives NIFTEM is spreading awareness and creating innovative ideas. The institute has introduced B.Tech, M.Tech courses. It has also launched village adoption programmes where small groups of students are formed under a teacher.
Which are the major growth opportunities in India's food processing sector?
Till now no serious work has been done to address the challenges faced in preserving perishable goods such as fruits, vegetables, fish, meat, etc. For example, in India we don't have organised slaughter houses due to which consumers are mostly unable to get hygienic meat and in right weight. At NIFTEM we give technical knowhow from cutting the meat to preserving it and from developing products out of meat to transporting them.
What are the career opportunities that students from NIFTEM can look forward to??
The course curriculum of the NIFTEM is very innovative and modern. We impart degree courses such as B.Tech in Food Technology and Management, and M.Tech in Food Technology and Management. These courses help our students become Techno Managers of tomorrow. We have even launched 'Student Innovative Fund' through which if any student comes up with an innovative idea them he/she can write to us and present a project report. If the institute finds it promising and path breaking then it will fund the whole research and project. NIFTEM has also signed three MoUs with three international universities.