Protecting food from
disease and decay
Producing enough food to feed the world's growing population is becoming a major concern. But making sure the food we grow is safe, nutritious and good enough to eat is also fraught with difficulty.
In developing countries disease and decay can inflict losses of up to 100 per cent on crops that left the field in perfect condition. These losses occur during harvesting, handling, shipment and after purchase by the consumer.
Our new Centre of Excellence for Post-harvest Biotechnology (CEPB), in the School of Biosciences is developing new technologies aimed at reducing food losses, improving overall quality and food safety.
Led by Dr Asgar Ali -an expert in postharvest biology and technology-the centre aims to increase profits for growers and marketers and make quality and nutritious food available to consumers.
Dr Ali said: "In developing countries, post-harvest losses are huge and can range from 10% to 50%. Tropical countries like Malaysia have a particular problem because of the number of microorganisms that exist due to humidity. Cutting post-harvest losses could add a sizable quantity to the global food supply."
With funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) UK, the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA), the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, Malaysia (MOSTI) and private sector organisations in Malaysia, the CEPB is working with other universities across the world to find solutions to the problem of post-harvest waste. It is also running an accompanying MSc and PhD programme.