- Soil management
- Water systems
Ecuador is identified as a highly productive country with opportunities, but like many other countries in the process of becoming industrialized, it is known that the accelerated growth rate of its imports is greater than that of its exports. This results in what is known in economic terms as an unbalanced productive structure (Diamand M, 1972). For this reason, there is a need for developing countries to diversify their productive activities and the processing of their raw materials, so that in 2030 they don’t put themselves at a disadvantage with other countries in terms of economic and social achievements in the last decade (Unctad and FAO, 2017). It is known that supporting the country’s agricultural sector, promoting the implementation of technologies in production processes, and investing in education are some alternatives that will promote the country’s development in various sectors. Thus, Yachay Tech University, through the Food Agroindustry program (approved in May 2020) and the agricultural land that was recently allocated to it and that will be run by the program, has as a priority to start working on soil preparation and planning of irrigation systems to develop agricultural and livestock activities, which in the very short term would show results of an effective proposed self-management model.
- Innovation related to the development of new products using local raw material
- Biotransformation (raw materials and food)
- Food safety
The development of new products truly is one of the activities that generates the greatest competitiveness at the business and country level. However, it involves a complex interplay of technical and commercial factors. From a technical point of view, the interaction of the ingredients with the food matrix must be considered, for example, to produce a healthier food, or for the use of conservation technologies to obtain a product with a high nutritional value, that is perceived as appetizing and that has a long shelf life. If we talk about the commercial point of view, we must develop products that meet the specific needs of consumers and that are accepted in the market. It is not a simple issue, because each of these aspects depends on the economic situations of the countries, the market segment we are targeting and the market trends that change over time (AINIA, 2016). The purpose of developing this line is to investigate aspects related to different local raw materials and to look for innovative alternatives of industrialization, to avoid production losses and guarantee nutritional value and food safety. In the medium term, we would be promoting the development of micro-enterprises, transferring knowledge and technology to local communities where we can develop different collaborative initiatives.
- Biodegradable plastics
- Optimization of agro-industrial processes with emphasis on improving productivity in the packaging line
- Nanotechnology and its relationship with the development of smart packaging
Currently the two main factors that govern the choice of food by the consumer are: that the food is healthy and that it is easy to prepare. In response to these changes, the agri-food industry has developed new technologies for the production and preservation of food that allow the extension of its useful life while guaranteeing its quality and safety. In this context, the new packaging systems are called to play a key role in the marketing of foods with higher quality standards (Centro de Vigilancia Sanitaria Veterinaria, 2007). In addition to this, the field of containers and packaging technologies is constantly evolving due to factors such as globalization, the development of technological advances, innovation in designs and environmental aspects. It is important to mention that the growth rate in this industry is 5% per year, and only in 2016 it represented US $820 billion dollars (Inteligencia de mercados, 2016). In relation to this issue, the regulations of each country and the demands of the market are connected and they are constantly changing according to the development of technologies or the needs of different segments. Current trends in packaging design can be grouped as follows: convenient and smart, environmentally friendly, personalized, flexible/rigid, edible, and functional. At the Latin American level, Peru has made significant progress in this area because in recent years it has invested resources and time to improve, and has managed to satisfy national and international demands. In Ecuador, we have to work in this line to be able to promote the development of containers and packaging, as it will always be important in any logistics chain to maintain products in optimal conditions. This helps the internal transport of products and also enhances the internationalization of local products with exportable potential.
- Recovery of native resources from the use of by-products
- Bioactive food components from various sources
- Emerging technologies for food preservation
It is very well known that Ecuador is a country that is rich in diversity of agricultural products whose functional properties (raw materials and by-products) have not been sufficiently exploited yet. This is good, if we think of the potential in carrying out research aimed at discovering the value of native products and the use of by-products from different sources (Zambrano S, 2014), as well as the preparation and characterization of organic waste that is nutritional, harmless and with added value. At the agro-industrial level, various raw materials are transformed by undergoing different unit operations in order to give them added value and thus facilitate their consumption. However, this also results in the production of waste that could, in some cases, become a problem of environmental pollution in water, soil, atmosphere and ecological niches (Cury et al, 2017). Likewise, it is known that these by-products are a source of compounds with technological or nutritional functionality, to mention an example, a high content of antioxidants (polyphenolic compounds) that can have a beneficial effect on health is obtained from citrus processing residues (Londoño -Londoño et al, 2010). Therefore, the development of new techniques and methods is important to be able to take advantage of the by-products generated from agro-industrial processing (Méndez, 1995), which could finally be used in food for human or animal consumption or destined for industrial applications. The studies could target characterizing different agro-industrial by-products using different methods to evaluate their possible application as natural additives, antimicrobial agents, among others that allow the production of functional foods without chemical additives (they can be carcinogenic). This alternative would undoubtedly help in two ways: by reducing the environmental impact with the use of by-products and by designing foods with a positive impact on health.