Influx of world class professionals hailing from top tier institutes abroad has been on the increase at NITR. The niche discipline of food process engineering has a novel addition of this genre. Prof Preetam Sarkar graduated from California State University with a master’s degree in Food and Nutritional Sciences and pursued his PhD at Purdue University soon after. He is all geared up to take new strides at NITR.
MM: Tell us about the projects you undertook as a research scholar in USA.
PS: The curriculum in US institutions is research oriented and I was involved in research projects from Day One. I earned a Master’s degree in Food and Nutrition Sciences, focusing on using agricultural byproducts for human food. The subject of my PhD thesis at Purdue was “Interaction and Protection of Antimicrobial Compounds with Carbohydrate-based Colloidal Systems for Improved Food Safety”.
MM: How is the research ambience in US institutions different from that in India?
PS: As mentioned earlier the curriculum in US is research oriented and you start working on a research project as soon as you enroll into a Master’s programme which is not the case in India. You are expected to take a few courses, study them in depth and put your knowledge to practical applications.
MM: Throw some light on the food processing sector in USA.
PS: Americans thrive on processed food; that should give you some idea on how huge and diverse the food processing sector is. 60-70% of the raw materials are processed in USA which is mind boggling for an Indian. Even delicacies prepared at home require processed ingredients like cheese, sauces, mayonnaise or minimally processed products. Therefore, whether it is food service or processing operation, food science and technology plays a vital role in everyday life. Since food is more protected and safe in USA owing to advanced processing procedures and equipments, the food processing sector is a safe market and losses incurred is minimal.
MM: What is the scope of food processing in India?
PS: India is the largest producer of milk and one of the top producers of fruits, vegetables and cereal grains in the world. Considering this statistics, India is a “gold-mine” in agriculture. But only 6% of the harvested raw materials are processed in India and storage losses are plenty. There are two major directions that need to be pursued. The first one is greater utilization of our agricultural biomaterials using new processing techniques. The second direction should be prolonged protection of our agricultural produce to improve food safety and security. Therefore, this is a rapidly growing field in India and research opportunities are ample.
Prof Preetam Sarkar aspires to develop novel bio-processing techniques for food production and contribute effectively to the food processing sector. Team MM wishes him luck for all his endeavours.
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