Raj Kumar Rijal works as the Senior Food Research Officer at the Government of Nepal’s Regional Food Technology and Quality Control Office (DTQC) in Hetauda.
In September 2016, Mr. Rijal had the opportunity to travel to Israel to learn more about “Feeding the Future: Food Safety and Technology in Times of Global Change" at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
The training he received was part of a programme by Israel's Agency for International Development Cooperation (MASHAV) and WFP Nepal to strengthen government capacity.
Here Rijal talks to WFP about his experience.
I began my career as a Food Research Officer at the DFTQC in 1999 in Dhangadi, Kailali district of Far Western Nepal. I was stationed there for over a decade, during which my duties included checking the quality of food that was produced in Nepal and also from India. I was also engaged in laboratory sample analysis, industry and market monitoring, food processing training, etc. In 2014, I was promoted to Senior Food Research Officer in Hetauda, an important hub for trade and commerce in central Nepal.
The Regional Food Technology and Quality Control Office in Hetauda implements various rules and regulations concerning the Food Act, including processing concerns over food quality control, expanding food technologies, conducting food processing trainings, nutrition trainings, enhancing consumer knowledge and awareness as well as food hygiene related trainings. In Hetauda, we oversee such activities across seven districts in the central southern plains of Nepal that borders India.
I was given the opportunity to participate in a 24 day training program in Israel through the support of MASHAV and WFP. There were a total of 27 participants from Panama, Costa Rica, Barbados, Serbia, Georgia, Armenia, India, Nepal, Vietnam, Nigeria, Gambia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Burundi, and Ghana.
The training covered various topics on risk factors and management; value addition, shelf life and technology, Quality Assurance and Quality Control, Environmental Management, usage of pesticide and fertilizer, amongst others. The trainings were a series of lectures and discussions, group work and discussion, and field visits that were followed by a final presentation. The aim of the training was to provide participants with management skills for confronting hazards and threats in regard to food.
The training taught me important technical skills specifically on food safety, using new technology and equipment. Since my return, I have shared the knowledge I gained from this training with my colleagues. This training not only benefited me but my colleagues, enhancing DTQC’s knowledge, work, and working capacity. Through this training, I will apply all of my new knowledge in the day to day management of food safety and quality control.
I believe that if such trainings are given to consumer-rights organizations, journalists, industrialists, and food entrepreneurs, they would be able to better advocate to consumers about safer food products. If skills involving the latest and modern technology are replaced with traditional ones, Nepal will be better equipped to determine quality of food.
Developing countries like Nepal are poorly equipped to respond to existing and emerging food safety problems due to lack technical and financial resources as well sufficient information about the hazards and risks involved and trained manpower. However, through trainings like this one, Nepal can improve and provide safer food to all.
WFP Nepal will to continue to support DFTQC and other actors to contribute to their capacity and knowledge in the area of food safety and quality. This training was one of several that WFP Nepal has conducted in areas ranging from Emergency Practical and Operational Logistics, Emergency Food Management, ICT Emergency Management, Food Quality and Safety and Assembling and Dismantling a Humanitarian Logistics Platform. These trainings have targeted 151 participants from Government, Security Forces, INGOs, Red Cross and UN Agencies. WFP Nepal will continue to provide such trainings in 2017.