Thailand honours UWS think-tank

Date: 19/09/2002

A University of Western Sydney academic has his name inscribed in the top echelons of King Moncut's University of Technology Thonburi, (KMUTT) in Bangkok, Thailand for his outstanding contributions in postharvest horticultural research and plant technology.

Adjunct Professor Barry McGlasson has received his honorary doctorate in recognition of his "unique performances in technical assistance to developing countries, prominent works in horticultural science, plant physiology, postharvest technology and contributions to scientific development and academic cooperation between UWS and KMUTT."

Professor McGlasson has a rich history of working on projects involving partnerships and exchange of students, ideas and research in the field of postharvest technology.

He advised KMUTT on the design and equipping of new postharvest laboratories that have been built on a new site at Bangkhuntien in South Bangkok.

The Government of Thailand established the state-of-art facility, which will provide an excellent base for students and staff who can advance their research capabilities and training of people from Thailand and neighbouring countries.

Postharvest technology is constantly under the microscope because it touches the core of basic human survival - from producing plants and crop to distributing these to the consumer in the freshest condition possible.

"It is now accepted that more can be gained by reducing losses and maintaining quality of fresh produce after harvest rather than simply increasing production to meet the needs of an expanding population. Postharvest technology is a multidisciplinary system that requires a lot of attention to detail," says Professor McGlasson.

UWS and KMUTT have an exchange program that began in 1996. Under the exchange agreement 17 Masters students in Postharvest Technology have spent one semester enrolled at the UWS Hawkesbury campus. These students won University Mobility Asia and Pacific (UMAP) scholarships that met the cost of travel and living in Australia. One UMAP student remained for one year to undertake her research project towards her Thailand degree. She was able to cooperate with a large Australian fresh produce company during her studies.

Professor McGlasson has developed close working relations with Sirichai Kamlayanarat, the Head of Division of Postharvest Technology at KMUTT.

"Our Thai counterparts see the unique partnership as a stepping stone to educating students to be able to solve problems anywhere along the market chain from farm to plate," says Professor McGlasson.

"The UWS programs are well -balanced with theory and practice. This has appealed to our Thai friends who are keen to try our approach."

The collaboration with KMUTT has led to contacts with business people in Thailand. One of these contacts has resulted in an order to an Australian company to construct and supply a hydrocooling and sanitizing system for a vegetable exporter.

These commercial and academic linkages between Australia and Thailand are expected to provide experienced supervisors for research students and improved opportunities for hands-on experience during their training.

"Students are now becoming adapted to new ways of producing and marketing commercial horticultural crops that will lead to new partnerships between farmers, merchants and retailers, which will ensure better incomes for farmers.

"One of the driving forces in most countries is the desire for healthy, safe foods. This is especially important for a country such as Thailand that wishes to expand exports. This desire for safe, high quality foods cannot be met without close working partnerships with growers."

Professor McGlasson is also renowned for his book Postharvest, which has been used as a teaching tool since 1981. The book, an introduction to the physiology on the handling of fruits, vegetables and ornamentals, is into its fourth edition.


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