To mete out effective solutions towards post-harvest optimization and value addition in horticultural crops, Assam Agricultural University (AAU), under the aegis of the Agricultural Innovation Partnership (AIP), organized a one-day interaction with food industry entrepreneurs on November 26, 2012 in the AAU campus, Jorhat. The goal of the interaction was to accelerate technology absorption by food enterprises in the region duly leveraging the locally-popular farm products that have potential for value addition. The interactions focused on translating technologies for adaptation and absorption by small enterprises for converting grains, dairy products and fruits and vegetables into shelf-stable ingredients and final products. The partners explored the opportunity to adapt innovation duly combining product positioning strategies with process and product technologies with the guidance of faculty and experts as AAU's important technology outreach effort. AAU's engagement to accelerate innovation and product development efforts of the entrepreneurs is supported by partner institutions of AIP. These efforts are directed towards supporting entrepreneurs to actively engage in developing market-ready products; learn and practice value chain optimization, develop effective farm linkages to ensure incremental income for the growers.
The state of Assam has a rich agricultural diversity, particularly in horticulture, including medicinal and aromatic plants. Tea, the most popular aromatic beverage, is the biggest contribution of Assam to the world. However, several other horticultural crops like pineapple, jackfruit, banana, though grown abundantly, are seldom processed or converted to value added products to minimize the losses during post harvest handling and transport. To minimize these losses, it calls for a public-private partnership model ensuring co-investment in capacity-building and creation of food processing facilities. AIP, in its attempt to work out a viable solution to these issues, converged international food experts, agriculturists, university faculty, entrepreneurs and students under the same roof.
Thirty-five participants from all over Assam took part in this innovation acceleration dialogue. While some of the participants were experienced entrepreneurs dealing in pickles, baked products, jam, etc., there were also aspiring entrepreneurs seeking guidance and technical support for starting an enterprise. Mr. Ashok Jha, General Manager - Life Science Advisory Group at Sathguru Management Consultants, briefed the participants on the technical and managerial support that the entrepreneurs can derive when they adapt technologies of relevance to bring affordable products that would add value to regional agricultural produce. Mr. Nripen Barua, product development expert from USA in the AIP team, explained the processes involved in preparing dried products popular in the US market, consumer behavior and technology utilization for optimum output.
In their feedback to Dr. Mamoni Das, faculty, AAU and Project Coordinator, AIP, the participants revealed that the sessions were extremely insightful and provided them with the knowledge and inspiration to work on the opportunities presented to them. The AAU outreach to these entrepreneurs has potential to bring innovation to markets, duly leveraging adoption of proven technologies.
Funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Agricultural Innovation Partnership (AIP), a five-year project, comprises a consortium of Indian Agricultural Universities and land-grant universities in the US (Cornell, Illinois, Georgia, The Ohio State, Tuskegee, and UC Davis) and private sector partners that include John Deere, Tata Chemicals Ltd, and Sathguru Management Consultants Pvt. Ltd. AIP believes in fostering change in the capabilities of Indian universities to deliver innovative pedagogical practices and to maximize institutional impact by promoting holistic transformation in Indian agriculture. AIP fosters innovation ecosystems within the rural setup to maximize income and enhance sustainability.
About Assam Agricultural University
Assam Agricultural University is the first institution of its kind in the whole of North-eastern Region of India. The main goal of this institution is to produce globally competitive human resources in farm sector and to carry out research in both conventional and frontier areas for production, optimization as well as to disseminate the generated technologies as public good for the benefit of the food growers/producers and traders involved in the sector while emphasizing on sustainability, equity and overall food security at household level.
About Sathguru Management Consultants
Sathguru Management Consultants is a multifaceted advisory firm providing strategic, technological, functional and sectoral advisory services to an international clientele. Sathguru is among the largest strategy and technology management advisory firm for the life sciences sector that covers a broad spectrum of industries including agriculture, food, retail, animal sciences and health care. Sathguru's development efforts are carried out in partnership with domestic and international development partners. Sathguru has pioneered creation of public-private partnerships for advancement of life science research, skill development and technology commercialization.
Susheel Kumar, Senior Manager - Corporate Communications, Sathguru Management Consultants Pvt. Ltd., +91 (40) 30160237, 30160333