This department works hand in hand with the Agriculture department and was incorporated after its necessity had been discovered. It plays a vital role in the organisation as much as any other department at KTA.
A lot of agricultural products are being produced in Zimbabwe from small to medium even up to commercial scale, the agricultural sector has always had a very important economic role in Zimbabwe being the backbone of the economy, from a subsistence to a commercial level. The challenge has been so far promoting a relationship with the farmers and their markets, an understanding of the quality issues of produce, how they are graded and their relationship with prices, some of the main problems that have resulted in losses are indirectly or directly related to quality, grading and lack of understanding of what the market wants. The food science department seeks to address such issues by developing and modelling fruit and vegetable standard specification guide developed and aimed to promoting and facilitating of fair trade practises and ultimately reduce in losses on part of the farmer. The department also carries out extensive research on postharvest management systems that include, harvesting techniques, packaging, transportation and storage and designing and implementing of appropriate technologies of fruits, vegetables and cereals that are easy and affordable to the farmers ultimately reducing post-harvest losses.
The company is also establishing Fruit and Vegetable processing factory in Harare in a bid to achieve the following objectives apart from the obvious reasons of making a profit and running a viable business:
- Contribute to the diversification of the economy, in order to reduce present dependence on one export commodity;
- Align itself with the government industrialization policy;
- Contribute to the reduction of imports and meeting export demands;
- Stimulate agricultural production by obtaining marketable products;
- Generate both rural and urban employment;
- Reduce fruit and vegetable losses;
- Generate new sources of income for farmers/artisans;
- Develop new value-added products
In general terms, the benefits in for the company of setting up of a fruit and vegetable processing plant have included the following :
- raw materials being readily available (often in surplus)
- most technologies being available, accessible and affordable at scales that are suitable for small operations
- equipment being manufactured locally, creating additional employment
- the products with a widespread demand
The food science department is also extensively involved in product development product development, which is a process they have divided into three segments;
- Concept, in which they create their ideas of the possible product they will offer on the market
- Prototype , out of the ideas they generate they come up with a particular product line which they work on and produce enough samples for market and viability testing
- Final Product , they scale up the product to full scale production in their small scale plants being set up
So far most of the products which include tomatoes based products which include purees, sauces, ketchups and juices, banana powder and instant nhopi porridge are in their final stage of development and the plants are being set up to upscale their production.
The department also facilitates and aids various organisation carrying out there research on food production systems in Zimbabwe, promoting the use indigenous crops such as groundnuts