Oromia Agricultural Research Institute (IQQO)
Food Science Research Directorate
Oromia Agricultural Research Institute (IQQO) has been undertaking various applied research programs that have been fundamental for food security and poverty reduction in the region since its establishment in July, 2001 .This is undertaken across its 17 research centers which address various agro-ecologies of the region working on Crop, Livestock, Natural Resources, Agricultural engineering and Agricultural Extension and socio-Economics. Currently, IQQO is almost on the virtue of starting the operation of Food Science Laboratory to undertake applied research on the agricultural products (food crops and livestock products- including fishery and honeybee products). This is aimed at integrating the quantitative research to the qualitative approach with the generated technologies from various disciplines of agricultural research at different agro-ecology-based research centers being organized under IQQO.
To undertake this research, IQQO has built a Food Science Laboratory with the necessary facilities and cutting edge Laboratory equipment in its head quarter compound. The Food Science Laboratory and its Research Directorate is established at a time when the country is urgently demanding competent laboratories to support the implementation of activities set under the Growth and Transformation Plan 2(GTP2) to ensure food safety, quality and nutritional content. The Laboratory is the first of its kind in the region under IQQO management that can undertake quality research and generate technologies for the community of the region as well as the country. Hence, it will contribute to filling the gap in the link between production in the development and production of safe, nutritious and wholesome food. Furthermore, it could help the region as well as the country boost its export by providing testing services for exporters locally and can encourage the food processing industries by relying on their proved quality.
The IQQO Food Science Research Laboratory will be capable of undertaking a wide variety of micro-biological, chemical and physical tests on food products. The establishment of this Food Science Research Directorate and its Laboratory at IQQO head quarter will have a positive impact on the agricultural research and development program, which has not been given considerable attention for several years, by creating a competitive environment.
The Need for the establishment of Food Science Research Directorate and its Laboratory
Food Science is a field of integrated study of basic sciences and the application of science and engineering to the production, processing, distribution, preparation, and evaluation of food. Furthermore, it is the study of the transformation of biological materials into food products acceptable for human consumption. This requires studying diverse scientific disciplines related to food, including Chemistry, microbiology, biochemistry, toxicology, biotechnology, engineering technology for the development and management of food resources ; and effectively applying the industrial and practical aspects to product development, food processing, preservation, and marketing.
The areas of food technology and nutritional research in agriculture has not been given due attention in the regional research institutes including IQQO. Consequently, agricultural researchers of the country have focused most of their attention on improving the production and productivities of the crops and livestock. However, in any major crop/livestock improvement program, attention must not only be given to the quantitative aspect of production but also nutritional considerations , processing quality and consumer acceptance be considered in order to bridge the gaps between nutritional needs and food supply. Hence, the Food Science Research Directorate and Laboratory of IQQO is established for the purpose of working to improve the safety and quality of the food supply from the farm to the table by providing high quality research and services to public and the food industry.
Vision and Mission
- Improved livelihoods of the community in the region as well as the country as a whole having access to nutritious, safe and diversified food and,
- Become a world class research Institute in Food Science with respect to technology generation, human and financial capital
- To contribute to the improvement of livelihoods of the community of the region through generation of food science technologies thereby enhancing food security and alleviating poverty through partnership based research to achieve sustainable increases in access to safe, nutritious, wholesome and acceptable food products while ensuring the efficient and more equitable use of agricultural products.
- Develop /Adopt new knowledge and technology continuously to address contemporary challenges and future anticipated
- To access and identify food related problems, generate and adopt/ adapt food science and related technologies in relation to production, processing and product development which is suitable, nutritious, safe and acceptable to human consumption and industrial uses
- To transfer food science technologies through service provision, various standard protocols, quality assurance, food regulation formulation, and play leading role in environmental issues for policy makers and strengthen stakeholders interaction to enhance the development of food industries in the region
Required facilities, infrastructure and technology inputs
Currently, Laboratory building and necessary facilities and infrastructure to undertake the Food Science research were completed in the IQQO head quarter compound. The building and infrastructure design and therefore, the completed construction, include more or less all necessary facilities required for the research activities. However, considering the quality and quantities of research to be carried out, and above all to discharge the mission of the IQQO’s Food Science Laboratory, it requires technical and administration backups, day to day energetic follow-ups and considerations in order to have “enthusiastic for the purpose” Laboratories as opposed to generic Laboratories to enable the Institute to discharge the technology generation, innovation and transfer mandates.
Putting enabling organizational structure in place
Organizational structure of the new Food Science Research Directorate through BPR study was newly developed in 2015 adopting some basic ideas and principles from the organizational structure of existing sister research Institutes in the country and from best examples in the world. For considerations, a number of nationally and internationally known Food Science research centers, Institutes and Universities are thoroughly visited and also explored through internet benchmarking. We made a visit to some of the Food Science Laboratories in Universities ( Addis Ababa University, college of natural science, center for Food Science and Nutrition, and research institutes , such as EIAR, Agricultural and Nutritional Research Laboratories Directorate with the Agricultural Quality Research Laboratory of the country). Accordingly, it is realized that the following three disciplinary teams are vital in the establishment of IQQO’s Food Science Research Directorate:
1. Food Chemistry and Nutrition Research Team
2. Food Microbiology Research Team
3. Food Technology and Process Engineering Research Team
These Laboratory and the respective research activities undertaken in each team are coordinated by the structurally organized Directorate of Food Science Research Director. Furthermore, Research team heads are assigned and will be reporting to the coordinator/ Director. Each team has at least three to four research components under which numbers of qualified researchers and Laboratory technicians will be assigned. Accordingly, a total of 50 human powers were proposed and approved by the Oromia Civil service and Good Governance Bureau.
Components under each research teams
- Food Chemistry and Nutrition Research Team
- Food Analysis
- Food Assessment and Nutrition Analysis
- Food Chemical Safety and Toxicology
- Food Microbiology Research Team
- Food Pathology
- Food Probiotics
- Food Biological Safety and Toxicology
- Food Technology and Process Engineering Research Team
- Food Biotechnology
- Food Processing and Product Development
- Food Marketing and Value Chain
- Food Processing and Environmental safety
These Research components under respective teams are organized to undertake Food Science research activities accordingly and researchers having pertinent professions are currently under recruitment.
This Food Science Research Directorate is newly established at the end of 2015 .Never the less, the required budget (for administration work/ human resource recruitment and research activities) is allocated in the mid of 2016 (beginning of 2009 E.C). So far, One Director for the Food Science Research Directorate and three Team leaders and two researchers (qualified professionals in food science) are transferred from four different research centers under IQQO; while one junior researcher is newly recruited. These Teams are undertaking lot of activities to make the Laboratory operational as soon as possible. Furthermore, they have already prepared number of research Proposals related to Food Science and undertook the review process at IQQO and the Oromia Regional Agricultural Research Review meeting.
Strategic issues of Food Science Research by Thematic Areas
- Food Microbiology
- Food Pathology
- Assess food items collected from different areas for their health and microbial pathogens by the use of indicator microorganisms
- Identification of important pathogens and spoilage microorganisms in foods, their distribution and the conditions under which they grow
- Identify the conditions under which the important pathogens are commonly inactivated, killed or made harmless in foods
- Understand the role and significance of microbial inactivation, adaptation and environmental factors (i.e., aW, pH, temperature) on growth and response of microorganisms in various environments.
1.Food Beneficiary Microbiology
-Identification, Characterization, and classification of beneficial microorganisms in food system (Such as probiotics used mostly in dairy product, fermentative which mainly used in food processing) and those used in food preservation will be studied.
-Using identified microbes and microbial products, studies regarding processed product quality, health benefit their production mechanisms will be studied.
1.3 Food Microbial Safety and Toxicology
- The economic significance and distribution of Microbial toxins in foods and the etiology of toxin production and subsequent accumulations will be studied.
- -protect the public health through microbial hazard identification, hazard characterization, exposure assessment and risk characterization
2. Food Chemistry and Nutrition
2.1 Food Analysis
- Determination of those properties that are important characteristics of safe, high-quality foods,
- Study of physical, chemical and bio-chemical properties of foods as they relate to stability, cost, quality, processing, safety, nutritive value, wholesomeness, and convenience.
- Composition and properties of raw agricultural products and processed food and the chemical changes it undergoes during handling, processing, and storage will be studied
2.2 Nutrition assessment and Analysis
- Provide Nutrition information though identification and characterization of most vulnerable or affected individuals or groups, as a screening tool to identify malnourished individuals needing special assistance and contribute to designing of food, health and other development policies.
- Facilitates analysis of socio-economic factors, demographics, food security and cultural aspects of a population.
- Nutrient composition, the chemicals in food that are necessary for life, their chemistry of locally as well as raw agricultural products, and how the body uses them will be studied
2.3. Food chemical and Biochemical safety and Toxicology
- Characterization of food items for allergenic substance composition and support food manufacturers address potential cross-contamination in the manufacturing environment and provide appropriate labeling of potential allergenic components in food
- Distribution of nonnutritive bioactive chemicals, ant-nutritional, antioxidant compounds and their mechanisms of interaction with dietary toxicants in Agriculturally produced, locally prepared and industrially processed, with their ramifications in assuring safety of complex mixtures in our diet will be studied.
3. Food technology and process engineering
3.1. Food processing and product development
- Formulation of new food which is a type of fortified plants & animals part or product by changing their natural nutritive value for greater variety, improved nutritional value, stable shelf life, consumer acceptance and convenience
- Evaluation of the effects of processing and added chemicals on wholesomeness and nutritive value cost, quality, variety, convenience, and deals with the physical, chemical, and biological properties of foods as they relate to stability, cost, quality, safety, nutritive value, wholesomeness, and convenience
3.2. Food Value chain and marketing
- Understand the source and variability of raw food material and their impact on food processing operations
- Understand the properties and uses of various packaging and storage materials in affecting final value chain
- The role of each and every stakeholders in food value chain will be identified
3.3. Food Biotechnology
- Testing the new line/ advanced line/ commercial varieties of food and livestock and their products for nutritional/ processing quality and consumer acceptance and participate in early selection gene modification
- -Identification and characterization of biological materials beneficial in food production and processing (eg. Single cell proteins, enzyme producing microbes and other useful microbial extracts) recommendation for end users.
3.4. Food and Environmental Safety
- Study on naturally and manmade environmental pollutants with respect to food production, preparation & processing & contaminations carried out in the environment and give support advice for program management (planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation) in many sectors including food security (agriculture & livestock), health, water and sanitation, education and environment.
- Characterize & identify the accumulation of hazard and toxic substances in aquatic and terrestrial plants and animals in the food chain & influence responsible to protect the environment for healthfulness of the population
Dereje Welteji (PhD)
Senior Researcher and Director of Food Science