| The bakery unit at the Home Science College under Assam Agricultural University. Telegraph picture |
Jorhat, Sept. 30: This state of the art bakery-cum-confectionery turns out cakes, buns, biscuits, pizzas and pies by the dozen, but not for public consumption.
The reason is solely academic.
Tucked away in an upper floor room in the food and nutrition department of the Home Science College under Assam Agricultural University (AAU), the bakery-cum-confectionery is all set to play a pivotal role in the experiential learning course to be introduced in the department from the next semester in 2011.
“This is the only department of a home science college in the country where an experiential learning course is being offered in baked and confection foods, that too with such high-tech equipment,” Basanti Baroova, head of the department, said.
The equipment include huge grinders, sifters, dough kneaders, proofers, beck and electric ovens, microwaves and friers.
Baroova said students would be engaged in bulk production of baked food and confectionery items.
They would also learn all the skills of the trade, including packaging, costing, labelling, shelf life and quality assurance of developed products with stress on hygiene.
“The course, which translates into learning by doing, will train a student as a professional with hands-on experience. It will also imbue them with the confidence to open a production unit of their own in case of absence of a job,” she said.
The four-year degree course in home science, recommended by the Fourth Deans’ Committee, proposes a two-plus-two course in which a student would be taught the basics for the first two years.
This would be followed by a professional elective course for the next two years and would include the experiential learning course.
The course involves production of baked goods and confection foods on a largescale in the first semester of the last year.
In the second semester, the student will have to undertake rural awareness work experience by living in villages and Implant, counselling in diet and nutrition in villages.
While the focus will be on practical classes in baking, a student will also have to undertake separate market surveys for the availability and consumption patterns of baked and confection products, standardisation of the products, trial runs with appropriate formulations, sensory and objective evaluation of developed products and consumer studies as part of the curriculum.
The unit is being used in the professional elective course of the current batch and there are three teachers in the department--Mamoni Das, Mridula Saikia Baruah and Pranati Das.
The equipment was procured in June 2008 by a direct grant of Rs 25 lakh from the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, New Delhi. The department, however, has not been able to utilise them to its full potential because of lack of manpower.
“The equipment could have served as the most efficient production unit in the university had we been able to market our products in bulk. But we do not have a back-up in terms of manpower or materials,” Baroova said.
She added this would have brought in a lot of revenue for the department.
“For now, whatever is rolled out from the equipment is packaged and sold within the Jorhat campus of the AAU. In a bid to generate self-employment, a proposal has been made to provide a three-month certificate course in baking and confectionery but is yet to take off,” Baroova said.