Food science and safety will benefit from five-year MoU

The Association of African Universities (AAU) has signed a five-year memorandum of understanding with the International Union of Food Science and Technology (IUFoST), which will help Africa to strengthen its capacity to secure food for its citizens as part of an attempt to achieve some of the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals as well as spur on the continent’s economic growth, the AAU has said.

It said the MoU provides a shared blueprint for the engagement between the two parties and focuses on urgent actions to be undertaken in achieving the overall goals, including providing substantive support and capacity-building in the thematic areas of food science, food safety and technology, and agro-food production and processing.

One envisaged project in support of the MoU, according to an AAU news release on 29 May, is the promotion of a network of researchers and institutions in the areas of food science and technology in universities in Africa through the development of a database.

The AAU and IUFoST aim to jointly develop a food science database which will capture important information on all universities in Africa that are teaching food science and technology; the names, contact details, and expertise of lecturers teaching food science and technology; and the research focus and specialities of these experts.

The development of this database fits into the vision of the Africa Research, Innovation and Development (AfRID) network.

The terms of reference for the collaboration between the AAU and IUFoST also include the sharing and the development of needed expertise at local, regional and international levels, sharing such scientific expertise for the purposes of strengthening capacity-building in Africa and expanding the model globally, with regional inputs.

In addition, the organisations will jointly develop training materials to be delivered through universities at undergraduate and graduate levels with international approvals through IUFoST and the associated academia. They will also share innovations, success stories of graduates and young researchers and training to catalyse additional funding in the AAU network.

The two organisations will also work together to provide education for the consumer on food nutrition, security, safety and sustainability through the application of educational programming.

The partners will also create platforms for the strengthening and capacity-building of early-career food scientists (graduates) in the region and implement initiatives to benchmark food science and technology curricula in universities within the region using IUFoST curricula, focusing specifically on the food safety curricula.

AAU Secretary General Olusola Bandele Oyewole, who signed the MoU on behalf of the association, said the two organisations have far advanced the development of a work plan for the duration of the MoU, which seeks to roll out critical interventions to reduce food losses and waste.

“The target is also to mitigate environmental effects through the promotion of innovative and new technologies; capacity-building and education and training at all levels, aimed specifically to combat undernutrition, and ensure safe food for all within the continent,” Oyewole said.

President of IUFoST Aman Wirakartakusumah said his organisation represents food scientists, technologists and engineers globally, and has three main tenets – education, food and nutrition security, and food safety, adding that, “we are certain that a lot of impact will be made through this collaboration with the AAU, leveraging the strong commitment of our two institutions, and the support of all stakeholders in Africa”.