Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Food Technology service learning project to benefit local fish farming

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The Food Technology Department is embarking on its first ever service learning programme.

Eleven second year Extended Curriculum Programme (ECP) students will participate in the programme within several farming communities.

The department plans to kick-start the programme by taking students to Three Streams Smoker House in Franschhoek in order to bring the students into contact with the trout and fish processing industry.

The visit will take place either at the end of February or beginning of March.

The students will also work with farm workers on several wine, fruit and olive farms.

Sune St. Clair Botha, one of the Food Technology lecturers, is driving the project and has recently been appointed as Service Learning Coordinator.

According to Botha, the project will involve activities such as site visits to several farms.

Botha said: “The department felt the need to bring students into contact with the food industry and give them the experience and opportunity to see how end products are manufactured from the raw materials.”

The ultimate goal for the department is to visit the small-scale trout farmers’ cages, where trout are being farmed, and train these small-scale farmers in basic food hygiene and safety.

The project will address the need of giving the small-scale trout farmers the necessary information, knowledge, skills and opportunities to ensure the sustained quality of fresh trout, which are sold to different fish processing facilities.

Botha said: “Another major objective of this programme is to train the food-handlers who will be working in the fishing processing facility in basic Food Technology principles.

“This will aid hands-on co-operation to process and manufacture safe food, which will assist in business sustainability, right down to the small-scale trout farmers.

“The students will then be trained in basic food hygiene and personal hygiene, and how these two aspects are of great concern for trout farmers.”

The students will later be asked to develop course material in the form of a PowerPoint presentation, which they will then use to train the small-scale trout farmers at a formal training session.

The students will also make use of some simple microbiology practices to demonstrate food contamination as well as basic food and personal hygiene.

According to Botha, the students will receive training in a more practical manner and the project will give them that opportunity to better understand how all the knowledge they obtained in Food Technology course can be combined to address challenges and practicality in the food industry.

The project will further teach the students basic and advanced communication skills.

The department hopes to continue with more projects in the future should other opportunities exist.

Botha said the manager of Hands-On Trout Co-operation, a centre where the students will be working, intends to build its own processing facility in Stellenbosch.

“The owner will later need people to work there. Those people will need training and that is where our students will come in. Because by that time we would already have a relationship with the corporation and our students might need to train the workers,” concluded Botha.

By Andiswa Dantile

Photograph: (left) Food Technology Service Learning Coordinator Sune St. Clair Botha (top right) Food Technology students who will be participating in service learning. (bottom right) Small-scale trout farmers in Franschhoek will benefit from the project.

Written by CPUT News

Email: news@cput.ac.za