The High Council for Evaluation of Research and Higher Education (HCERES) has granted accreditation to the Master of Science Degree programme in Postharvest Engineering and Technology for Food Processing and Preservation at the Benue State University, Makurdi. The programme is domiciled in the Department of Vocational and Technical Education and administered through a World Bank grant under the Center of Excellence for Food Technology and Research (CEFTER). The HCERES accreditation is for a period of 5 years.
The Master of Science in Postharvest Engineering and Technology for Food Processing and Preservation was created in 2015 to mitigate post-harvest loses and guarantee quality products and food security. The Programme director, Benedict Iorzer Labe, holds a PhD degree in Mechanical Production Technology/Education from the University of Technology, Yola – Nigeria. Dr Benedict Iorzer Labe is Associate Processor and current Head of Vocational and Technical Education at the Benue State University, Makurdi.
With approval of the National Universities Commission (NUC), the Benue State University mandated the Hcéres to perform the evaluation of its Post-Harvest Engineering and Technology for Food Processing and Preservation master programme. The Experts Committee was led by Carole Molina Jouve (President of the Committee). The evaluation was based on the “External Evaluation Standards” of foreign study programmes, adopted by the Hcéres Board on October 4th, 2016.
The Composition of the Experts Panel included Carole Molina Jouve, Professor, Institut National des Sciences appliquées de Toulouse (President of the Experts Committee); Christophe Bressac, Assistant Professor, Université de Tours; Delphine Latour, Assistant Professor, Université de Clermont-Auvergne; and Mathilde Colas, PhD Student (Student Expert), Université de Technologie de Troyes. Hcéres was represented by Pierre Courtellemont, Science Advisor.
In their report the HCERES team noted that:
The Post-harvest Engineering and Technology master program is one of the high level courses given by the Benue State University of Makurdi in its Center for Food Technology and Research (CEFTER). This program has all the human and infrastructure requirements to educate postgraduate and professional students to be actors of the preservation, storage and transport of agricultural products for this region of Africa. The situation in Nigeria is on phase with the agricultural development of the country, who is a leader for food production in this part of the world.
Post-Harvest losses constitute the major factor contributing to insecurity in Sub-Sahara Africa but are often overlooked. It is estimated that Africa losses food valued at US $4.0 billion yearly due to post-harvest losses. This serious shortfall leads to stunted development, malnutrition, diseases and death of millions of children. Post-harvest technologies currently in use are either too expensive or unsuitable for local environments. Chemicals which are widely used have often proved hazardous. Nigerian and indeed African teachers and researchers need to be equipped with adequate facilities to be able to utilize multidisciplinary approaches to embark on high capacity building through teaching, conduct of cutting edge research and promotion of active outreach programmes to address post-harvest food losses. Through the support of the World Bank, the Benue State University established the Africa Centre of Excellence for Food Technology and Research (CEFTER) to address these challenges. The success of CEFTER depends largely on the strong and long standing partnerships between academic, research and extension institutions in Nigeria and the sub region. The mandate of CEFTER is to promote teaching, research and extension in post- harvest sciences, enhance agricultural productivity and industrial output for the socio-economic advancement of Nigeria and Africa.
The M.Sc. Programme in Post-Harvest Engineering and Technology for Food processing and Preservation is aimed at training graduates to acquire skills and knowledge in the field of Food Processing and Preservation Technology in Nigeria, Africa and the World at large. Experts in this field are needed as field extension staff, researchers, plant developers and managers as well as general entrepreneurs in the specialized Agricultural business of Food Crop Processing and Preservation. This is necessary for value chain addition to prevent Post-harvest losses and guarantee quality products that can ensure market penetration, availability, consumption and extended shelf life. The programme provides the students a platform to obtain in-depth training in Mechanical Technology theory and practices, including processing and preservation technologies, both artisan and advanced, for value chain addition and improvement of incomes and livelihoods for the “technology entrepreneur” of the new millennium.