Vijay Laxmi Kasotia writes: Keeping human resource development as a key area of intervention, the Ministry of Food Processing Industry has taken the strategic initiative of setting up the National Institute of Food Technology, Entrepreneurship & Management (NIFTEM). The institution envisions evolving as a top notch world-class institute, catering to the ever-evolving needs of various stakeholders like exporters, industry, entrepreneurs and policy makers. The institute envisages playing a key role in order to provide a major impetus to the Food Processing Industry in India.
A Clear Cut Vision
NIFTEM envision becoming an International Centre of Excellence, integrating all facets of Food Technology, Entrepreneurship, Research & Management, and being recognized as the central point for accelerating the growth of the Food Processing Industry in India. The organization shall go beyond traditional food technology and take a more comprehensive approach to food sciences, by involving related subjects such as agri-business management, organizational behaviour, psychology, sociology, accountancy, macro and micro economics, nutritional sciences and genetics.
NIFTEM has been set up on a 100-acre campus near Delhi in Kundli Distt. Sonepat, Haryana. The Union Cabinet approved the proposal of the Ministry for changing the legal status of NIFTEM from a Company to a Society there by allowing the Institute to function as an autonomous organization.
The Institute’s role is to develop world-class managerial talent and entrepreneurship with advanced know how in food science and technology, provide intellectual support for regulations that govern food safety and quality, while fostering innovation.
Its role also includes to function as a knowledge pool on aspects of food processing – product information, production and processing technology, market trends, safety and quality standards, management practices among others, facilitate business incubation services with ultra modern pilot plants for fruits and vegetables, dairy, meat, and grain processing, promote cooperation and networking amongst existing institutions both within the country as well as abroad.
NIFTEM’s mission has clarity and clear cut goals to be achieved, that include development of innovative value-added products, creation of competitive process and technologies to enable India to serve as the food basket of the world, serving as a referral laboratory for testing of food products. It also provides forward and backward linkages to the stakeholders, continuous training to sharpen skills and keep up to date with global trends in food research and technology. Networking with other food testing laboratories to ensure standardization of procedures and efficient utilization of resources and assists entrepreneurs to develop sustainable businesses.
NIFTEM assists in development of food standards, quality accreditation and certification and works as a knowledge bank for recording Indian traditional food practices, which enable transfer of simple technologies from laboratory to farm and promote the harmonization of national and international laws and regulations.
Prospects of Education in Food Science & Management
Tie-ups with reputed global institutions would form an important part of NIFTEM’s work culture. The aim is to bring advanced technology and expertise into the country through successful alliances and collaborations with renowned institutes in the global food industry. The five departments for teaching and research would also benefit from the long-term association with prominent international institutions, through student and faculty exchange programmes as well as joint research projects in various areas of Food Processing and Management. NIFTEM shall help the faculty and students to gain immensely through cross-country interaction and cross-country engagement research.
As part of its Endeavour to bring global methodology and expertise into Indian Food Processing Industries, NIFTEM and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University (CALS) signed an MoU in January, 2008 for collaboration in the fields of human resource development, applied research and industry oriented innovation in the food processing sector. Cornell University, a global leader in food science education and Sathguru, the Indian associate of Cornell University are to join hands for providing strategic support to NIFTEM through knowledge linkages, design facilities for food science research, education programmes in the areas of food science and in supporting enterprise development.
Possible Areas for Global Collaborations
In the area of global collaboration, NIFTEM designs course and facilitates in the field of faculty exchange, business incubation, consumer research and information sharing. It strengthen research programmes (fundamental and applied) and their linkages with industry and end consumers
Theme Centres – Nurturing the Spirit of Leadership
NIFTEM is developing “theme centres” with the aim of promoting leadership and innovation-driven practices in the key sector of Food Processing. Each theme centre will have world-class manpower and infrastructure for research and training. The theme centres would benefit through long-term association with prominent international institutions, through a faculty exchange programme or joint research initiatives in various Food Processing areas such as dairy, seafood and wine.
NIFTEM provides B. Tech, M. Tech in food technology and management. It also impart courses in Food Business Management and doctorate in Food technology.
Towards a Bright Future
The future challenge lies in creating an organizational eco-system and world-class infrastructure, which can seamlessly blend all the functionalities of NIFTEM and allied activities. As NIFTEM would spearhead the knowledge drive, adopting global best practices, innovation, partnership and skill, its success would be crucial for scripting a new era in the evolution of Indian Food Processing Industry as a whole.