Preparing for 'Rainbow Revolution'

CAREER WATCH

With the prices of onion and garlic hitting the roof, homemakers are a worried lot. Those who have been using the readymade garlic paste have been wise enough to quietly buy a few more packets off the shelves. But the ones looking for any such substitute for onions are not so lucky.

However, few in India really know that ‘dehydrated onion’ is one such alternative. But, it is yet to hit the processed food shelves of retail stores in India.

India attained food security in 1982 with cereals production stabilising around the annual requirement of the population. It was a milestone in national history.


But, similar stability in matters of fruit, vegetables, spices and edible oils is still some distance away.

It is not that we do not produce enough of these items. Much of it, almost 30 per cent of vegetables and fruits especially, goes a waste as the nation does not have the required post-harvest technology and skill to process, package, transport and market them. While Kolar farmers routinely dump tomatoes on the highways to protest dip in prices, potato growers in Bulandshahar, Meerut and Farrukhabad in Uttar Pradesh turn their potatoes into manure by not extracting them when production exceeds the demand.

The problem is not merely with the absence of cold storages. It is also about the insufficient development of the food processing industry. Given this situation, prospects for any skills and courses that could produce professionals in managing food processing can be imagined.

“Sky is the lower limit when one talks about the scope for such graduates,” says Dr Lalith Achoth, professor and head of the Department of Dairy Economics and Business Management under the Karnataka Veterinary, Animal and Fisheries Sciences University (KVAFSU).

It was this scenario that led the Bangalore-based Dairy Science College, a constituent unit of the KVAFSU, Bidar, to conceive and launch the first of its kind course, MBA in Food and Dairy Business last June.

The two-year course focuses on training students in the management of food and dairy business and equipping them with vision and entrepreneurship skills. Says Dr Lalith, “Urban and employment scene is rapidly changing and the demand for processed food is rising around the country.

With both spouses working, the cooking time has come down to 10 minutes from the earlier 45 minutes. Indian food industry has an annual turnover of over Rs 150,000 crore, growing at the rate of 44 per cent per annum. This growth has attracted investments even from multinational companies.”

MBA in Food and Dairy Business envisions the training of professionals with skills in the use of management tools and possess analytical capabilities to effectively identify, analyse and solve management problems for organisations in food and dairy business, financial institutions and small companies.

The course has a good dosage of quantitative techniques like statistics, econometrics, mathematics, market research and operation management. Students are provided hands-on training on SAS (Statistics and Analysis Software), acquired overseas.Three areas have been designated for specialisation, i.e., food marketing, financial management and business analytics.

According to Prof Karamatulla, course co-ordinator, while the existing courses talked about agribusiness, farm development, dairy development, record-keeping, etc, food processing management was not addressed. He says if only India stopped wasting horticultural crops and processed them, the entire European market could be supplied fruits and vegetables throughout the year. He says the government was serious about bringing in the ‘Rainbow Revolution’* and hence opened the sector for global companies in 2004.

Though the MBA in Food and Dairy Business could take 30 students, the college could find only 15 and 16 students for the first and second batches respectively. Admissions are through entrance tests and while candidates with degrees in agriculture, veterinary and horticulture are given preference, even those with BBM or MA degrees or the ones who have completed four years of university education in any stream can join the course, though differential fee structure makes it less expensive for graduates of the agricultural and veterinary universities. The current two batches have drawn students with even BE and MBBS degrees.

More information can be had from the Department of Dairy Economics and Business Management, Dairy Science College, Regional Campus, Hebbal, Bangalore-560024; Ph: 23418840; Email: foodndairy@gmail.com

( *Rainbow Revolution refers to efforts the Government of India is making to encourage production in the horticultural sector.)

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