Interdisciplinary Institute for Food Security (IIFS)
Bangladesh is on the cusp of a total overhaul in the management of food safety. In recent years, through the efforts of the Bangladesh Agricultural University and others, huge strides have been made in the establishment of Food Security- the challenge now is to ensure Food Safety. A major initiative from the Ministry of Food and with the full support of the Prime minister, the Bangladesh Food Safety Authority (BFSA) was established on February 2, 2015 under the Food Safety Act, 2013. Their primary duty is to protect the health of the Bangladesh people by making sure the food produced, imported or exported from Bangladesh is safe and free from any contaminants likely to be injurious to health. A new profession is to be developed- Safe Food Officers who will be Class 1 civil servants. They will need to be highly qualified and skilled to carry out the risk based inspections and enforcement which will drive the Bangladeshi food safety agenda over the next decade. There is an urgent need for a new Bachelors level curriculum to achieve the challenging goals of the national food control system.
The Bangladesh Food Safety Authority (BFSA) with technical assistance by from UN FAO was tasked with assessing potential providers of this curriculum. The Dublin Institute of Technology, an internationally regarded leader in Food Safety education was commissioned to assess potential providers and assist in the development of the curriculum. After extensive research Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU) was identified as one institution which was eminently suitable to provide the programme. This was due to the prestigious position is commands in the third level sector in Bangladesh and the extensive international experience and calibre of its faculty. Later, BAU academic council has decided to place this degree under its Interdisciplinary Institute for Food Security.
The curriculum is particularly challenging due to the multidisciplinary nature of the programme. It needs to ensure food safety from farm to fork, based upon science but requiring a broad range of additional skills from food law to rural sociology, food safety auditing to communication, organisational management to animal production. Hence the programme must be taught by a number of faculties each makings an essential if not equal contribution.
From the perspective of BAU, while not to underestimate the enormous work and commitment needed to develop and deliver this challenging curriculum, this comes with a commensurate reward- the opportunity to be part of taking Bangladesh from a developing country to a middle income country. BAU will achieve its stated goal not only to help feed the country but to ensure that the food supply is safe. It will be premier provider of Food Safety education and be an international exemplar for such delivery with all the rewards and kudos associated with such success.