Agricultural and Nutrition Research Laboratory

An Overview

Since establishment of agricultural system in Ethiopia, for the last five decades, Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research has been involved in development of high yielding and pest resistant varieties of crops and livestock species, formulation of appropriate agronomic packages including use of fertilizers, irrigation, farm implements and different crop management practices and promotion of alternative technological packages to the end users. So far, though much is remained, the institute has contributed significantly in the transformation of the agricultural sector. In the middle of GTP I, after looking into the increased demand of industries and exporters for quality agricultural products, and huge potential to replace imports, EIAR has realized the need to establish quality system in its research endeavor, and reorganized its structure to include quality agricultural research. The main objective of this initiative includes investigation of quality of crop and other varieties and livestock products, searching for alternative use of food items and improvement of nutritional status of the community and enhancing the ability of research system to scientifically investigate bio-agents. 

Laboratories therefore, became the central focus area to be enhanced so that detailed analysis and investigation of technologies can be realized. In line with this, EIAR has committed itself in making the designed objectives reality, which can be demonstrated by sharp and linear increase of budget allocation, huge recruitment of technical staffs in various disciplines (so far more than 100 employed), provision of technical training in the area, capacitate various laboratories with equipment and other facilities, and increased overall competencies of laboratories. Hence within one year EIAR accredited its seven laboratories fulfilling the requirements of ISO/IEC 17025. The current stride of the institute towards quality will start fruiting in mid of GTP II where the first comprehensively designed research and development projects will be completed. And by then most research commodities of crop and livestock will use the newly standardized laboratories so that they will be able to fully characterize qualities of their products. The same will be true for other research engagements like soil and water researches.

Chemical Analysis and Agricultural Chemistry Lab

Activities 

  • Investigating status and quality of Agro-chemical inputs for crop/feed production. 
  • Characterization of secondary metabolites for the development of natural product commercialization. 
  • Study on flavor and fragrance technologies. 
  • Studies on polymerization of natural products (oil, starch, proteins, resins, gums) for industry input/ production 
  • Food Quality and Safety assuring tools development. 
  • Identify and enrichment of specific biochemical components (inherited) in strategic crops that are associated with end-use quality traits. 
  • Bio-availability studies of macro and micro nutrients in strategic crops. 
  • Development and validation of methods used to characterize complex matrix of agricultural products. 
  • Validation of selected Analytical methods in agricultural and nutritional laboratories. 
  • Development of NIR method for proximate and major agricultural product components (caffeine, amino acids, etc.) analysis. 
  • Investigate possible chemical amendment options for acid and salt affected soils. 
  • Development of bio-remediation technologies for rehabilitation of contaminated areas. 
  • Recycling of organic wastes for improving soil health and crop productivity. 
  • Marginal water amendment for the utilization of water for Aquaculture and irrigation. 
  • Production of crop without soil (hydroponic) formulation.

Nutrition and Agricultural Products Protocol Synthesis Division

Activities

1) Indigenous foods characterization 

  • Staple and occasional foods 
  • Traditional beverages 
  • Traditional snacks 
  • Orphan (wild) fruits, vegetables, herbs

2) Alternative food product development and innovation 

  • Food formulations and fortifications 
  • Value addition: censorial, nutritional

3) Food processing technologies 

  • Processing techniques 
  • Preservation and packaging 
  • Processing method comparisons and modifications 
  • Processing effect on nutrient retention and anti-nutritional factors 
  • Postharvest handling, postharvest loss reduction and knowledge gap assessment techniques

4) Food product popularization 

  • Processing, preservation and handling practices adoption and/or popularization 
  • Product adoption and/or popularization

Agricultural Biological Agents Division

  • Detection and diagnosis of microbes 
  • Identification, characterization, data base and storage facilities development for microbial culture collection 
  • Food spoilage and Food-borne pathogenic microbes 
  • Mycotoxigenic fungi and other toxin producing microbes 
  • Beneficial microbes 
  • Establishment of database and storage facilities for microbial culture collections

2) Development and promotion of beneficial microorganisms 

  • Food fermentative microbes 
  • Antimicrobial substance producing microbes 
  • Enzyme producing microbes 
  • Microbial biocontrol agents 
  • Microbial detoxifier 
  • Microbial bio-fertilizer 
  • Microbial plant growth promoter (in the long run)

3) Microbial Food safety 

  • Beef and beef products 
  • Milk and dairy products 
  • Poultry and poultry products 
  • Fish and fish products (post-harvest) 
  • Crop food products (post-harvest, post-process, ready-to-eat food)

Scientific Equipment Maintenance, Use and Calibration Division

Activities

  • Scientific equipment maintenance 
  • Scientific equipment calibration 
  • Scientific equipment database 
  • Scientific equipment procurement and administration