The Paddy Processing Research Centre (PPRC) at Thanjavur that metamorphosed into Indian Institute for Crop Processing Technology (IICPT) in 2008 is in the process of transforming the rice bowl of Tamil Nadu into a food processing hub.

Alongside courses on food processing technology, research activities are being taken up for processing of all types of crops through tie-ups with foreign universities and taking the technology to other parts of the country, particularly north east.

IICPT is poised to grow into an international organisation of repute and a centre of excellence. The Institute offers B.Tech and M.tech in food processing and Ph.D. Dr. Alagu Sundaram, Director of the Institute said that at present, 25 students are studying B.Tech food processing. This will be increased to 40 from the coming academic year. Ten students are now doing M.Tech in food processing. Five students will be admitted to Ph.D every year.

Plus-Two is the qualification required for applying for B.Tech. “We normally prefer students with Maths, Physics and Chemistry,” Dr. Alagu Sundaram said.

The eligibility for joining M.Tech is B.Tech in food technology or mechanical engineering. At present 12 food processing scientists are working. Soon 30 more scientists will be recruited.

The physical growth of the institute in the last two years has been tremendous. A big administrative building has come up which was inaugurated by Minister for food processing Subodh Kant Sahai earlier this month. Housed in the building is a good library.

“It is a good resource centre for food processing subjects,” Dr. Alagu Sundaram said. There are 22,000 books on food processing alone. There are 10,000 reprints.

Twelve international journals on food processing are available in the library. “We have a good computer facility and Wifi (wireless internet) facility. There are 40 nodes and all students can use them,” the director said.

The government had allotted Rs. 88 crore towards building infrastructure for the institute.

The administrative block has come up at a cost of Rs. 12 crore. A lecture hall complex, a laboratory complex, an indoor games hall, a students' hostel facility and five Research and Development blocks are to be constructed.

“We also have plans to upgrade all our laboratories to international standards. About Rs. 20 crore-worth of equipment is to be purchased,” the director said.

The institute has made tie-ups with many international institutes. They include University of Nebraska, USA, and University of Manitoba, Canada.

Memorandum of Understanding has been signed with Illinois Institute of Technology, Colarado State University, Oklahoma, and Kansas Universities, USA, McGill University and Saskatchewan Universities in Canada. Students and scientists exchange programmes will go on with these universities.

In the last two years, the institute has conducted seminars, workshops and training programmes in 20 places of the country. It is also creating an awareness among people about food processing by conducting training programmes for farmers and housewives.