The Northern Marianas College, Cooperative Research, Extension, and Education Services (CREES) has been awarded $3.4 million to conduct food science research and spur further economic development in the CNMI.
The projects, led by NMC CREES Food Scientist, Program Leader, and Professor Dr. Zaidul Sarker, will use the bulk of the funds to purchase equipment for the food science lab on Saipan and a smaller lab on Rota.
“I am very much excited to receive this funding to install one of the best food science laboratories in the world in the CNMI at NMC-CREES.” Sarker said. “I greatly hope to make patents and scientific publications from the local products of CNMI.”
Due to the scientific merit of the research proposals and wide experiences of Dr. Sarker with over 250 publications in peer reviewed journals and five food science patents, the NMC internal peer review team was convinced to submit Dr. Zaidul Sarker’s proposals to USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).
“The food science laboratory will allow us to have capabilities that we previously did not have in this region of the Pacific,” NMC CREES Interim Dean Patricia Coleman said. “We will be able to study plant properties, conduct food analysis and food safety analysis, and do the research to create new products.”
One aspect of the research focuses on diversifying the uses and supplementation of imported wheat flour in the value-added bakery products using breadfruit, sweet potato, taro, cassava, and yam flour from locally grown crops in CNMI for the enrichment of the nutritional value in the food and nutraceuticals. The research seeks to preserve this value-added food for an extended period of time as an alternative source of wheat and carbohydrate while increasing local food security and decreasing the reliance on imported food stuff.
This grant will help develop new diversified value-added food, herbal products and nutraceuticals which are to be introduced worldwide from CNMI local sources.
“This is a great feat for NMC and the CNMI and Micronesian region,” NMC President Galvin Deleon Guerrero said.