Rationale of the program
Agriculture contributes about 50% to the overall GDP; generate 90% export earnings and supplies about 70% of the country’s raw materials to the secondary activities (Kreuchauf, 20081). Even though these are basic facts, as a result of recurrent drought in the country from time to time, Ethiopia is facing repeated food insecurity and malnutrition problems. This is exasperated due to fluctuating and unpredictable climatic conditions influencing food crop production and poor postharvest management. The country’s future development strategy focuses on effective mobilization and utilization of agricultural resources. Because of this, the government of Ethiopia is implementing a strategy called Agriculture Led Industrial Development (ALID). More recently, the government launched a series of development and poverty reduction programs, including the Agricultural Growth and Rural Development Strategy and Program (2004), the Food Security Program (2004), and the Plan for Accelerated and Sustainable Development to End Poverty (PASDEP) (2006). The PASDEP’s (the Ethiopian Government 2005-2010 strategic plan) main trust is to fight poverty through accelerated economic growth, to be achieved mainly through commercialization of agriculture as well as economic growth and employment creation through private sector development.
Ethiopian agriculture is associated with challenges such as subsistence farming, lack of diversification, pastoral system with low productivity, and high post harvest losses of agricultural products. The magnitude of post harvest losses varies from region to region and commodity to commodity. The highest post harvest losses are observed in perishable agricultural products such as fruits, vegetables and ornamentals. The post harvest loss of cereals, pulses, legumes related to poor harvest, drying, packaging, storage and transport is also a serious problem. Export and value addition of various crop products is in a serious challenge due to quality related to seed wholesomeness and mycotoxin.
To attain food security and generate more income, there is a huge potential for reducing post harvest losses including quality loss and adding value to agricultural products through appropriate postharvest Technology. Furthermore, by converting waste to useful products, we could achieve additional revenue, clean environment and ensure sustainability.
To reduce post harvest losses and to add value to agricultural products, the need for appropriately trained human resource is quite vital. To achieve this, a new M.Sc. and PhD program in postharvest technology (PHT) are to be designed. In the context of the new PHT program, Post-Harvest Technology (PHT) is defined as any solution/practice to reduce these losses associated with harvesting, handling, transportation, storage and distribution as well as to add value to agricultural products. This can be a process or a series of steps to be followed, use of a technique, a technology, or a marketing and management strategy.
The shortage of qualified human resource in PHT was reconfirmed during the needs assessment conducted in two rounds 2014 and 2015. During the assessment, (private industry, University, Government and non-governmental, producers associations, employers and community group stakeholders) and employees were asked to identify important subject matter knowledge, skill sets, and competencies that graduates should have. The needs identified by the employers were considered and incorporated in the curriculum.
1. To produce competent graduates M.Sc. with the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary for Post-Harvest Technology and value addition of agricultural products
2. To adapt and/or generate technologies through demand driven and problem solving research in the area of Post-Harvest Technology
3. To disseminate appropriate technologies to potential users
The professional in PHT will:
1) Utilize the acquired theoretical knowledge and practical skills to the post -harvest technology of agricultural products;
2) Identify, design, construct and manage post-harvest technology systems;
3) Conduct demand driven research and development projects in the area of postharvest technology and disseminate the research results;
4) Demonstrate high imagination, creativity, social and environmental consciousness, professional ethics and sense of responsibility to work towards national development objectives; and
5) Exhibit entrepreneurial, communication and teamwork skills, and leadership quality.
Missions of the department
1. To produce high caliber and competent graduates in the areas of post-harvest technology and value addition of agricultural products, while mainstreaming the three crosscutting themes (gender, HIV/AIDS, and environment).
2. To carry out demand driven and problem solving research and generate appropriate technologies that focus on national and regional post-harvest challenges and opportunities.
3. To provide community outreach services through promotion and dissemination of appropriate technologies, and to organize professional workshops and tailored training programs in the areas of post-harvest technology and value added agriculture.