Food for Thought

SNAPPING SHOTS: Professor Hussein Shimelis of African Centre for Crop Improvement at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, also on the local organising committee.

The Agrifood Technology Station takes on all manner of projects, but sometimes guests remind them just how lucky the students are to have access to state of the art equipment.

Situated at the Food Technology building, the ATS provides a range of scientific, commercial and technical services to support innovation and technology transfer in the food industry. At the same time the Food Technology students watch and learn to apply their knowledge, working in the various laboratories.

Recently the ATS welcomed delegates from the Sorghum in the 21st Century conference. Prof Victoria Jideani, head of the Cereal and Legume Biopolymer Research for Food Security group at CPUT, was on the local organising committee.

She explained that the 2018 Sorghum Conference in Cape Town brought together the world’s experts on sorghum to harness the collective wisdom for the world’s food security.  One issue explored at the conference was product development of sorghum and conference delegates were interested in what facilities are available around South Africa to explore processes.

“Bringing the delegates to the one of its kind in Africa food processing facility housed in the Department of Food Science and Technology will make an impression on the participants and open opportunities for international collaboration as well as putting CPUT on the map,” said Jideani.

ATS Manager Larry Dolley first spoke to the delegates about the industry linkages and relationships they have forged over the years.

Dolley pointed out that the Station’s companies database is full of projects they have worked on and currently they are exploring a venture on insects for human consumption, starting an indigenous knowledge documentation centre and setting up a mini chocolate factory in the laboratory for students to learn about confectionary making.

Then he took delegates around the laboratories where they were curious about whether the sensory analysis facility is pressurised (it is not yet but there is a plan in place) and whether students learn about all the machinery or have to specialise (CPUT students follow a diverse curriculum familiarising the students with as much as they have access to).

Ndegwa Maina, food science lecturer at the University of Helsinki expressed surprise when he ascertained that CPUT owned the building, because they have to pay rent for similar laboratories at his institution.

He visited the Agrifood Technology Station with an eye to possible collaborations and to see what he could learn about the CPUT curriculum.

“This is a luxury,” said Maina about the facility, pointing out that rent has become too expensive at the Helsinki University, forcing their department to consolidate their food laboratories into a smaller space.


Written by Theresa Smith

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