In an increasingly competitive international and regional market, an important challenge for agricultural producers is to produce quality, safety agricultural products both for the domestic and foreign markets and to increase the export potential of domestic products. The competent specialists with the new knowledge, skills and abilities in sustainable agribusiness management play a key role in solving this challenge. In an increasingly competitive international and regional market, an important challenge for agricultural producers is to produce quality, safety agricultural products both for the domestic and foreign markets and to increase the export potential of domestic products. The competent specialists with the new knowledge, skills and abilities in sustainable agribusiness management play a key role in solving this challenge.
In order to train in-demand specialists to the agro-food industry within the framework of AgroDev project “Improvement of higher education content in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan to support industries that ensure sustainable production of quality agricultural products” the curricula will be updated, laboratories related to agricultural production will be equipped in 4 universities: the Naryn State University named after S. Naamatov and the Kyrgyz National Agrarian University named after K.I. Skryabin, the Tashkent State Agrarian University and the Samarkand branch of the Tashkent State Economic University. For this purpose, a training seminar was held at the Latvian University of Natural Sciences and Technologies (LLU, Latvia) from 12 to 19 June 2022 with the participation of 6 teachers from each partner university.
The main objectives of the seminar:
Familiarity with advanced research, experience, production and processing technologies in the field of crop and livestock production
- To learning about modern organic production technologies and food safety requirements
- To improve of curricula and teaching materials
- Introduction to modern developments in new products from plant and animal raw materials, their production and nutrition technology,
- Individual meetings of participants with LLU colleagues on modernization of curricula and teaching packages
The seven-day international seminar introduced to the participants with the best practices in the organic horticulture, the vegetable production and the animal husbandry. In the EU and worldwide there is a rapidly growing demand of the consumption of the organic products, which in turn is a demand for the organic agriculture. The organic production aims to improve the health of farmers, the general population by producing high quality food, raw materials and other products, preserving soil fertility and the environment, developing rural areas and stimulating local and regional production.
On the first day of the seminar there was a meeting with the university administration represented by the Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs Aigars Laizans, the Head of the International Department Voldemar Baris,the Project Manager Irina Kulitane and the Content Coordinator Anita Blige. Mr. Aigars Laizans gave a welcome speech and a presentation about the university. The University of Latvia “Latvia University of Life Science and Technologies” provides versatile and unique study programmes related to advanced agriculture, veterinary medicine, food production, forestry and landscape architecture, specializing in sustainable use of natural resources, aiming to improve the quality of life of the society. The university is located in Jelgava, an old cultural town just 40 km from the Latvian capital Riga. Jelgava is recognized as a true student city. In the afternoon participants of the seminar had an interesting meeting with the Dean of the Faculty and the Head of LLU Smart Technology and Knowledge Transfer Department, where new products are developed from plant and animal raw materials, their production and nutrition technologies; bioactive compounds are studied and new packaging materials and technologies for food production are applied. Individual meetings of working groups from each partner university to discuss with LLU colleagues the modernization of curricula and teaching packages were successfully held, focusing on the topics and content of lectures and practical classes and the distribution of hours in the program.
On the second day of the seminar the participants visited the milk processing companies “Latvijas Piens” and a branch of a retailer “Maxima”, with a wide range of products and well organised product logistics. In the afternoon a visit to the Institute of Food Safety, Animal Health and Environment “BIOR” was organized, where the Director of the Institute Aivars Berzins informed the participants about the innovative research methods of creating the new practical knowledge in the field of public and environmental health, food, fish breeding and veterinary medicine. The representative of the Food and Veterinary Service of the Republic of Latvia in the person of Tatyana Marchenko gave a tour and told about the activities of this service.
On the third day of the seminar the participants visited Keefa fruit and vegetable processing company, where organic natural products are produced, which were developed in cooperation with LLU experts, where special attention is paid to the selection of ingredients to ensure not only a unique taste, but also to ensure the necessary amount of vitamins and biologically active substances. Of particular interest was the introduction to the HACCP international standard vegetable processing company Kronis, founded in 1964. The company has over 140 products for a wide range of customers: ready-made soups, pesto, preserves, juices, nectars, salads, lecho, jams, porridges, sauces and even confectionery – powdered cranberries. HACCP is a set of guidelines aimed at preserving the quality of goods, foodstuffs and production processes. The functioning of the programme is based on defining critical control points (CCPs) to subsequent monitoring of compliance with established critical limits. Food production must be strictly monitored by the supervisory authorities, in order to minimise the entry of poor quality products into the market that can undermine public health. Hence, the requirements for the issuance of permits, as well as the rules and regulations governing all processes in the food sector, establishing food safety requirements and obliging food facilities to implement and comply with the HACCP system, the international standard ISO 22000. At the end of this day, a presentation on medicinal herbs by Lolita Duguet at the “Mint House” also generated interest among the seminar participants for further development of agribusiness areas.
On the fourth day of the seminar a very informative visit was made to the educational and research farm of the Latvian University of Science and Technology “Pēterlauki” and “Vecauce”, where Biruta Bankina introduced to the seminar participants the scientific base and experimental plots, also with a multi-branch farm engaged in cattle breeding, including repair breeding. The next was organised the visit to the Institute of Horticulture, which was founded in 2016 and where conducts research in the field of fruit and vegetable production on the study of biological bases, environmentally friendly systems of cultivation of vegetable crops, diversification and development of a number of new varieties. The particular interest to the seminar participants were the activities of the Institute, which are aimed at strengthening the scientific capacity of the Faculty of Agriculture and improving the quality of horticulture-related courses.
On the fifth day the participants visited the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and the Laboratory of Molecular Biology and Microbiology where multifunctional studies of organic systems in postnatal ontogenesis, approbation of synthetic materials in living organisms, research and prevention of the zoonotic infections, evaluation of the food quality and safety are conducted. The food hygienists can work in the enterprises managed by the Food and Veterinary Service of the Republic of Latvia that produce and distribute foodstuff, as well as in public catering and laboratory diagnostics. The Faculty operates three institutes and a veterinary clinic “Veterinary Medicine Training Centre”.
During the visit of “Dabas gardumi”, a company engaged in processing and freezing of the fruit and the berry products, production of the organic products, the natural drinks, the participants of the seminar were able to see firsthand the positive experience of private farms and companies in improving the productivity of organic production and quality of products.
Conclusions. The following conclusions were drawn during the training sessions with the leading specialists of the above-mentioned companies:
- The implementation of HACCP in the processing plants should become mandatory in order to conduct the regular identification, analysis and management of occupational hazards that have a negative impact on the safety of the final product supplied to consumers.
- Maximum use of biological factors to increase the natural soil fertility, agro-ecological methods of pest and disease control, as well as the benefits of biodiversity, in particular local and unique species, varieties, breeds will enable effective development of organic farming.
- For further development of the organic farming it is necessary to:
– introduction of a specialization in “Organic Production” in higher education institutions;
– the regular training and the capacity building courses for farmers in this area;
– exchange of experience and the latest knowledge with developing agribusinesses and farmers between countries;
– mandatory implementation of the acquired knowledge and experience into the practice of partner universities.
- The training of competent specialists is also conditioned by the necessity to solve the global environmental problems resulting from the intensive farming methods and the human awareness of being part of the surrounding world, but not its proprietor.
The seminar program at the Latvian University of Science and Technology was very interesting and informative exactly in the area of organic farming and production of the organic products.
At the end of the international seminar, the Rector of the LLU, Irina Pilvere, presented certificates to all participants.