DEPARTMENT OF FOOD SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY:
THE JOURNEY SO FAR
The founding fathers of the University of Nigeria realized the necessity of postharvest technology in an agriculture-based national economy from the very inception of the university. As a consequence the University commissioned experts (Profs Kirk Lenton, Hugh Henderson, Wasley Grunkel and James Boyd) of Michigan State University (MSU) which was UNN’s collaborating institution to prepare a study which in January 1964 resulted to a report entitled “Educational Development Analysis of the College of Agriculture, University of Nigeria (1964)”. Among other things, this report proposed the establishment of a Department of Food Science and Technology, which the Governing Council approved in August 1964. Although the proposal was submitted through the Government of Eastern Nigeria for United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for a development assistance loan by the Government of United States of America (USA) to establish the Department and construct the attendant facilities, the effort was shelved until the end of the Nigerian Civil War (1967 – 1970). In 1971, the Faculty of Agriculture resumed its pressure on the University to establish a Department of Food Science and Technology which was channeled to the National University Council (NUC) which on its part was only able to authorize the commencement of a degree programme in the discipline under the rubric of an umbrella academic entity: the Department of Food and Home Sciences. Consequently, Food Science and Technology, as an academic programme, took off at University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 1973 in a combined Department with Home Economics housed in Osmond Building without the requisite technical facilities with which such a prograrmme should be endowed.
Objectives: Food Science and Technology Programme is designed to provide a practical and theoretical training on the conversion of raw agricultural produce into processed, packaged, shelf-stable food products and intermediate raw materials; different aspects of food preservation; establishment, maintenance and assurance of food quality; design and maintenance of food process machines; direct practical experience in food industries, food research laboratories/stations/higher academic institutions and governmental agencies responsible for the formulation and enforcement of food laws; and entrepreneurial skills that will make students self-reliant/employed on graduation.
The objectives of the postgraduate programmes are, in addition, to train students as researchers and high level teachers in food science and technology; improve students understanding of different aspects of handling, processing and quality control; and inculcate in students the skill and capacity to participate actively in the process of positive transformation of the Nigerian food industry in the new millennium.
Philosophy: Food Science and Technology is a field of integrated study of basic sciences, microbiology, biochemistry, nutrition, biotechnology, engineering technology for the development and management of food resources. The discipline exposes the nature, composition and properties of food materials and their behavior during processing, handling, storage, distribution and utilization.
The postgraduate programmes are, in addition, designed to prepare an individual to become a specialist in one of the cognate areas of food science and technology with special emphasis on food commodities. The course of study and research are flexible and designed to meet the needs and interests of the individual student. Emphasis is placed on cultivating strong scientific foundation as a basis for developing research and/or professional competence in a specific programme area.