Food Technology in Bolivia

On 23 November 2018, 110 PhD students and postdocs from Sida and ISP programs gathered for a networking day at Sida. Among participants was PhD student Catalina Fuentes from Universidad Mayor de San Andres (UMSA), La Paz,  Bolivia.

Catalina Fuentes is a sandwich student in Sidas' bilateral research program with Bolivia, meaning she does part of her PhD training at her home university in Bolivia (UMSA) and part at Lund University in Sweden. She is hoping this is her last visit to Sweden as a student before defending her thesis in Lund this spring.

Her research is in chemistry, more specifically food technology. She is using a technique called asymmetrical flow field-flow fractionation (AF4) to characterize non-solvent precipitated starch. A technique of great importance to understanding food properties, something that could enhance the value of Bolivian foods and other natural products in the future.

- The work and technique I am using in my research would be impossible to know and carry out in my country without the Sida cooperation. With the funding from Sida we bought new equipment so now we can do the same analysis in Bolivia as in Sweden. This means that when I am home, I can still continue with my research.

Even though UMSA and Lund University now have the same equipment in place, Catalina points to the importance of continuing the cooperation with Sweden.  

- Right now, we have the machine but not the expertise since we are so new in this technique and usage of the instrument. Actually, there are very few research groups in the world working with this. One of the experts in this field is my main supervisor Prof Lars Nilsson at Lund University. I think it is very important that we keep learning from him and others on how to do this research on our own. With the PhD training in Sweden we are building capacity to use the equipment at home.

There is no local PhD program in chemistry at UMSA yet.

- Capacity is on its way to be built up, thanks to Sida. It takes a long time, but the possibility of a PhD program happening is in the reachable future, and we will be able to develop expertise in the area of natural macromolecules.

December 2018