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Sharing research ideas
Posted Monday, August 10, 2009 8:33 AM
With India’s food processing industries minister Subodh Kant Sahai (middle) in attendance, Dr. Digvir Jayas (right) and IICPT director Dr. K. Alagusundaram (left) signed a memorandum of understanding in New Delhi on July 18.

The University of Manitoba has joined forces with India’s leading institute of crop processing in regions prone to storms, flooding and cyclones.

The new pact means University of Manitoba faculty and students will do research and share ideas with their counterparts at the Indian Institute of Crop Processing Technology (IICPT).

Dr. Digvir Jayas, the University of Manitoba’s vice-president (research), put pen to paper and signed a memorandum of understanding in New Delhi last month, alongside Institute director Dr. K. Alagusundaram.

Located on the outskirts of Thanjavur in southeast India, the IICPT is equipped with a cutting-edge food analysis lab, where researchers study things like toxins in food, nutritional information on food labels, and pesticide residue in soft drinks and organic products.

Together, the two post-secondary institutions will develop new programs and courses; do research, lectures and training; share research materials; and provide students and faculty with exchange opportunities.

Jayas says the partnership is a good fit since both schools are doing extensive research in grains and processing (including drying, storage handling, the production of biofuels and bioproducts, and functional foods and nutraceuticals).

“This agreement will allow us to collaborate in these areas, which, hopefully, will enhance the research being done in both countries,” said Jayas, noting faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences and the Richardson Centre for Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals will benefit. “Not only do we have similar research interests to the individuals at this exclusive institute, but we live in climates that have comparable issues in managing stored grain.”

Jayas believes this partnership will also help the University of Manitoba recruit top graduate students. The IICPT, run under India’s Ministry of Food Processing Industries, is the country’s national institute for research, education and training in post-harvest crop processing.

The University of Manitoba is home to the Canadian Wheat Board Centre for Grain Storage Research, a world-class facility where scientists are trying to figure out cost-effective ways to control and prevent fungal growth and insect infestations. It’s the only place where investigators from various disciplines – like engineering and entomology – are teaming up to tackle problems facing grain storage ecosystems.

Subodh Kant Sahai, India’s food processing industries minister, told Indian media he hopes the pact between the University of Manitoba and the IICPT results in shared technology that will help them prevent post-harvest losses.  “The MOU will focus mainly on student and faculty exchange programs for further enhancing the research and development in the agriculture and food processing sector,” Sahai said of the agreement, which was signed during a Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce-led business mission.

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo courtesy Press Information Bureau, Government of India.

For more information, contact:
Katie Chalmers-Brooks
Research Communications Officer
Office of the Vice-President (Research)
Phone: (204) 474-7184
Fax: (204) 261-0325