Ebner, P., McNamara, K, Deering, A., Oliver, H., Rahimi, M. & Faisal, H (2017). Towards developing an industry-validated food technology curriculum in Afghanistan. Journal of Agricultural Education, 58(3), 72-83. https://doi.org/10.5032/jae.2017.03072
Afghanistan remains an agrarian country with most analyses holding food production and processing as key to recovery. To date, however, there are no public or private higher education departments focused on food technology. To bridge this gap, Herat University initiated a new academic department conferring BS degrees in food technology. Models for developing agriculture curricula consider industry input integral to preparing graduates for the job market. Here, we assessed perspectives of Afghan food processors on challenges faced and skills/knowledge valued most in new employees as a first step in developing an industry validated food technology curriculum for Afghanistan. Businesses identified numerous challenges (e.g., having to source technical assistance from outside the country) and specific skills gaps (e.g., ability to conduct quality analysis/assurance) they feel should be addressed by the university. Afghan higher education is largely teacher centered, however, with little to no integration of industry stakeholders and responses indicated that establishing beneficial relationships between stakeholders and university programs will take considerable effort. As Afghanistan continues higher education reform throughout the country with the addition of more “workforce” oriented degree programs, these results have implications extending to other areas of agriculture and beyond.