CSIR shares expertise with agro-entrepreneurs and interns at the agroprocessing workshop

Back row (from left to right): Kersch Naidoo, Otsile Raditsebe, Makekele Moshoana, Dr Greg Gordon, Amukelani Mabasa, Dheepak Maharajh, Nolan Govender, Happy Mathekga, Mpho Malaka; Front row (from left to right): Tebogo Selala, Mandla Mashaba, Marcia Sombane, Nokulunga Ngwenya.

Agro-entrepreneurs and Biomanufacturing Industry Development Centre (BIDC) interns gathered at the agro-processing workshop recently held at the CSIR. Hosted by the CSIR BIDC programme, the workshop covered key aspects of agro-product and process development.

The workshop, presented by Dheepak Maharajh, science innovation leader and members of the CSIR Natural Products and Agroprocessing team, drew participants from agro-entrepreneurs supported by the BIDC and interns and in-service trainees.

“To my experience this was a high level scientific workshop. I acquired valuable information throughout the whole week,” said Makekele Somo-Tladi, Director of Operations: Elvema Clinical Trials and Nutrition.

The first day of the workshop covered the theoretical aspects of agro-process and product development, as well as the associated processing equipment. This was followed by intensive practical training which included batch agroprocessing, extraction, separation, as well as final product formulations.

Recapping on the workshop, Ubitron Managing Director, Peter Yiga said, “It gave us good insight into the relevance of the processing machinery used in agro-processing and the value added to natural products through processing. I think that many of the processes applicable to the agro-processing industry are also applicable in other processing industries. I was also particularly impressed with processes involved in the various extraction technologies. I think that the exposure I received at the workshop will assist our company in its product processing.”

Explaining what the workshop meant for him and how valuable the skills acquired during the workshop, CSIR chemical engineering intern, Happy Mathekga felt that: “The workshop exceeded my expectations. What I take from this whole experience are valuable skills much needed in the country because most raw materials, be they agricultural or minerals, are exported to other countries and imported as valuable finished products because we do not have the capacity to add value to them through further processing.”

The workshop will be held again in April/May 2015. The course is presented in an interactive manner with a list of tasks and group activities. Individuals involved in agroprocessing and product development and who are at the intermediate stages of their careers would be suitable candidates. Candidates who are agro-processing interns, technologists, product and process engineers and scientists, as well as agro-entrepreneurs may attend. For more information, contact Lara Kotze-Jacobs: BIDC Project Manager at LKotze@csir.co.za or 012 841 4634.

By Kulani Chauke