Jul 7, 2015

International Symposium on Food Safety 16 Juy 2015

The Faculty of Agriculture of the University of Mauritius is hosting a one day International Symposium in Food Safety in collaboration with the SELAMAT (Safety enhancement of Edible products, Legislation, Analysis and Management) consortium on the 16 July 2015.The programme of the symposium is provided below.

The Faculty of Agriculture has celebrated its centenary in 2014 and has always been proactive and strived to align its programmes of studies with the emerging needs of the Agricultural and Food sector in Mauritius. Several research projects pertaining to value addition, food safety, food and health and product development have been carried out. The Faculty has been active in the area of Food Science and Technology: offering Bachelors, masters and Postgraduate research programmes, organising workshops .

The SELAMAT (Safety enhancement of Edible products, Legislation, Analysis and Management) is a unique partnership of science-based organisations or other organisations established in Asia and the EU. It aims at working together in the area of food safety on activities of mutual benefit. The main partner institutions are from Netherlands, Portugal, Malaysia, Russia, China, Brazil, Republic of Korea, Mauritius, Ghana and Sudan.

Jul 6, 2015

Organizations Raising Awareness of Antibiotic Resistance

The routine use of antibiotics on livestock leads to the emergence of antibiotic resistant bacteria that can impact humans. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), in 2010, almost 52 percent of chicken breasts tested were contaminated with antibiotic resistant E. coli. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration reports that 80 percent of all antibiotics are fed to farm animals that aren’t sick, in order to promote rapid growth.

The overuse of antibiotics results in high costs to consumers who become sick from antibiotic-resistant bacteria. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), excess healthcare costs in the U.S. from antibiotic resistance are estimated at US $20 billion annually. People spent an additional 8 million days in the hospital due to these infections in 2011. Other societal costs, such as lost wages from extra days spent in the hospital and premature deaths, were estimated at US$35 billion in 2011.

In the U.S., at least 2 million people become infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria every year, according to the CDC. And 23,000 people die every year as a direct result of those infections, with many more dying from complications. Because of these exorbitant costs and serious public health risks, there is a national movement to end the use of sub-therapeutic antibiotics in agricultural production.

What do we do when antibiotics don’t work any more?

Penicillin changed everything. Infections that had previously killed were suddenly quickly curable. Yet as Maryn McKenna shares in this sobering talk, we've squandered the advantages afforded us by that and later antibiotics. Drug-resistant bacteria mean we're entering a post-antibiotic world — and it won't be pretty. There are, however, things we can do ... if we start right now.Antiobiotic resistance is becoming a real concerm. Listen to this talk

Jul 2, 2015

Talk by Prof Alison Bailey, University of Reading

Empowering agricultural graduates for the job market: challenges for the HEIs and prospective employers

By Associate Prof Alison Bailey, External Examiner (University of Reading)

Agriculture is a vital and successful industry worldwide. Globally forecasters are estimating a worldwide population explosion to over nine billion by the year 2050.  To meet the demand for food and other products, agricultural production will have to significantly increase, more so than in the last 10,000 years. However, the relative importance of agriculture as part of developed, primarily western, economies is decreasing.  Internationally, and conversely, there is new competition from other nations arising from factors such as increasing liberalisation of international trade in agri-food, huge changes in the demography of populations in developing nations, rapid advances in knowledge-based industries, and new and internationally shared concerns with regard to issues such as sustainable farming systems, the environment, food quality and safety, and animal welfare.

This talk will cover a number of areas, focused on the UK but with reference to the global market. First, a review of the agricultural industry. Second, the recent fall and rise of the agricultural education sector, examining concerns raised 10 years ago and the current situation today, with reflections on the future for the research and educational sector, and the students themselves. Fourth, it will outline the provision of agricultural education in the UK with particular reference to the University of Reading. Finally, reference is made to the employer perspective. Findings from a one day conference to mark the 25th Anniversary of the Farm Management Unit at Reading entitled ‘Educating managers for 21st century agriculture and the countryside’, which included speakers providing perspectives from the industry are highlighted. Although held 10 years ago, the issues raised then are still of relevance today.


Dr Alison Bailey is an Associate Professor in Agricultural Business Management and Director of the Farm Management Unit at the University of Reading. She studied at Aberystwyth University and has previously worked at Edinburgh and Cranfield Universities in the UK. The focus of Alison's current research is on the analysis of agricultural production systems encompassing: the financial and economic analyses of the impact on farm productivity of alternative farming systems and agri-environment policy strategy, and the investigation of farmer decision making processes and motivations. She also has an interest in the application of socio-economic principles and techniques for resource and environmental management, including environmental economic valuation, cost benefit analysis and accounting. She is Programme Director for the degree in Agricultural Business Management; with teaching focused on farm business management, including agricultural, rural development and agri-environment policy.

Jul 1, 2015

Learning with online social networks

 Lews Castle College, University of the Highlands and Islands
Student engagement with digital learning resources and online social networking are strong forces in education today. How can these resources best be utilized by educators and course designers in higher education? 

In his talk Professor Rennie gave enough background information to appreciate the value of social networking, especially for distributed education. He highlighted the  most relevant, interesting, and challenging aspects of e-learning and  practical advice for using social networking tools in course design. See his presentation below.

External Examiners for Academic Year 2015

This year the Faculty had 3 external examiners for the 4 final year undergraduate programmes. They had interaction with the students, assessed their posters, dissertations among other tasks. The staff also had time to discuss with all of them.

Jun 30, 2015

Mycotoxins in the Food Chain

A Research Presentation: Mycotoxins as natural contaminants in the food chain (Food Research Laboratory, GCU, Glasgow)"

Prof Aidoo, External examiner


Department of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, School of Life Sciences, Glasgow Caledonian University

The presentation focused on research on mycotoxins as natural contaminants in the food chain. Some of the data on research carried out in the Food Research Laboratory on occurrence of aflatoxins in some food commodities including milk from local farms and foods imported from warmer regions of the world and marketed in the UK will be presented. Legislative levels of mycotoxins in food will also be considered. 

The presentation covered in vitro inhibitory effects of Fingerroot, a culinary herb, on formation of aflatoxin mutagenic metabolites. The Food Research Laboratory is accredited to ISO 17025 by the United Kingdom Accreditation Services (UKAS) and the consultancy includes services to food companies particularly in nutritional analysis, food pathogens, shelf life of foods and various aspects of food safety.

Molecular Aspects of Heat Stress Response of Rice Plants

Molecular Aspects of the Heat Stress Response of Rice Plants

by Prof Anil Grover - External examiner- Department of Plant Molecular Biology, University of Delhi South Campus Benito Juarez Road, DhaulaKuan, New Delhi‐110021, India (email:anil.anilgrover@gmail.com)

Rice (Oryzasativa L.) is the most important food crop. The rice transcriptional profile is significantly modulated by heat stress: the enrichment of GO terms protein kinase activity/ protein serine kinase activity, response to heat and reactive oxygen species in up‐regulated genes signifies the role of signal transduction events and reactive oxygen species during early heat stress (Mittal et al. 2012a,b, Sarkar et al. 2014). The proteins associated with chaperones and protein degradation machineries of the cell are stimulated as one of the early steps in minimizing damages to other proteins. Genome‐wide biology of rice Hsp20, Hsp40, Hsp70 and Hsp100 as well as heat shock factors has been unearthed from our studies (Sarkar et al. 2009, Singh et al. 2010, Sarkar et al. 2013a, Sarkar et al.2013b). Rice contains three ClpB/Hsp100 proteins localized to different cellular compartments: cytoplasm/nucleus (OsClpB‐c), mitochondria (OsClpB‐m) and chloroplast (OsClpB‐p) (Mishra and Grover 2015). OsClpB‐c (Os05g44340), OsClpB‐m (Os02g08490) and OsClpB‐p (Os03g31300) proteins are able to complement the thermo‐sensitive phenotype of yeast hsp100 mutant (ΔSchsp104) (Singh and Grover 2010, Singh et al. 2010). Arabidopsis Hot1‐3 is a null mutant for ClpB‐c gene, and is highly thermo‐sensitive both at the seed and seedling levels (Hong and Vierling 2000). We are interested to analyse the strategies of expression of Hsp100 forms which can possibly result into high temperature resistant crops. We have documented that OsHsfA2c (a) has rapid transcript induction under high temperature stress, (b) possesses transactivation activity, (c) forms homo‐oligomeric configuration, (d) regulates expression from OsClpB‐c promoter in heat shock element (HSE)‐dependent manner and (e) interacts with OsClpB‐c and OsHsfB4b proteins (Mittal et al. 2009, Mittal et al. 2011, Singh et al. 2012). We infer that supra‐complexes, involving several OsHsfs, regulate Hsp promoters under high temperature stress in rice.

Visit at Meaders Feed Mill

Jun 15, 2015

Prof Sunita Facknath, new Dean of Faculty of Agriculture

Prof Yasmina Jaufeerally Fakim (on the right) term as Dean of the Faculty, ended on 12 June 2015. At a meeting with all academic staff  on 15 June 2015, she thanked them all for  their efforts and cooperation for the smooth running of the Faculty during the past 3 years. She also wished Prof Sunita Facknath a fruitful Deanship. The new Dean thanked the achievements (e.g celebrations of the 100 years of the faculty, development of the Faculty mission and objectives, development of new courses, participation in regional and continental projects, promoting a research culture at the Faculty, among others) we have made during her tenure. She wish to have all staff continued support to face the new challenges ahead of us and move the Faculty to a new front.

The staff were then invited for a mini lunch buffet. Bon appetit!!!!

Congratulations to the new Dean!!!!  (On the left)