The Food Technology Department (FTD) exists to promote food-processing activities from product formulation to finished products. The process involves identification of available raw materials, recipe development, and pilot plant process optimization for selected product formulations, sensory evaluation and consumer acceptance surveys. The goal is to promote the development of the food industry in Botswana, hence contributing to diversification in the local economy.
- Research and development of food products from locally produced animal and plant resources
- Process design, optimization and technology transfer to entrepreneurs
- Technical support in process equipment sourcing and/or fabrication
- Technical assistance in process documentation and record keeping for SMEs in food processing on consultancy basis
- Provision of training in food processing technologies, nutrition, food hygiene and safety
- Preparation of technical business proposals for presentation to funding agencies
Current Research Areas of Concentration:
Development of Value-added Plant Products
The main objective of R & D in plant products is to enhance self-reliance in semi-processed and processed horticultural products. This will be result in job creation, income generation and a diversified economy, especially in marginalized areas that depend primarily on veldt (wild) products.
In plant products, potential exists for exploitation of indigenous plant resources (especially fruits and vegetables), which are adapted to the local climatic conditions. With Government support in irrigated crop production, there is a need to develop plant products as a means of value-addition, and to accommodate surplus produce, while reducing reliance on imported processed food products. The selection of plant products for conversion to value-added products is based on several criteria, which include raw material availability; priority areas as per government policy, the potential for irrigated agricultural production, the current level of importation of the products, and the potential for transformation into high value export products.
The Department also conducts research on products from other crops such as soybeans and cowpeas as alternative and healthier protein sources.
Development of Value-added Animal Products
Through the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC), the beef industry in Botswana is well developed, with exports of prime beef cuts to the EU. The beef industry is more advanced in Botswana than in most other African countries. Non-prime meat cuts can be processed into value-added products for export markets within Africa and beyond. For the local market, the potential still exists in the development of products based on traditional recipes, such as seswaa and serobe, among others. Diversification into long shelf life-type products for institutions (military, hospitals, schools, etc) and famine relief meat products requires evaluation, and is part of the current focus in the FTU.
The ostrich industry in Botswana offers an enormous opportunity, as only about 50% of meat from the ostrich is of export quality. With the current production level of 5,000 birds per year, each producing an extra 20 Kg of non-export quality meat, 100 MT would be available for processing into value-added ostrich meat products. For the Botswana ostrich abattoir to be economically viable, 12,000-15,000 birds are needed per year, providing over 360 MT of non-export quality ostrich meat for value-added products. Ostrich meat products provide an alternative and healthier choice, compared to beef.
The FTU also conducts product development and food safety training for dairy products, especially in support of SMEs.
Food Safety Management Systems
The FTU is involved in assessments and design of tools to promote food safety in food processing facilities, the hospitality industry, institutional kitchens, and allied industries such as in manufacturing of food packaging materials. Services in food safety management systems based on Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) are also offered on consultancy basis.