Visit of Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Hon'ble Union Minister of Science & Technology, Earth Sciences and Vice President, CSIR
Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Hon’ble Union Minister for Science & Technology and Earth Science, and Vice President of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) visited CSIR-Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology located at Palampur in Himachal Pradesh on 18 October, 2016. Hon’ble Minister was shown the major research facilities and was briefed on the scientific, societal and industrial achievements of the institute. Director apprised the Hon’ble Minister of the recent transfer of technologies/consultancies to various entrepreneurs and industrial partners. Hon’ble minister was also apprised of signing of MoU for transfer of tea wine technology to representatives of tea industry at Mozambique.
The Hon’ble minister inaugurated Pilot Plant facility for nutraceuticals, Academy & Technology Extension Block and Hydroponic & Aeroponic facility. Having visited the research laboratories and field facilities of the Institute, the Hon’ble Minister’s interacted with scientists and students of the Institute. Later he also interacted with large number of entrepreneurs and farmers, who had taken technologies, advice, and consultancies from the institute in the area of floriculture, tea, medicinal and aromatic plants, food, sweeteners, and enzymes. He appreciated the efforts of entrepreneurs and farmers for adopting the lab technologies. The Hon’ble minister drew attention of the local entrepreneurs to develop industries around local bioresources of high commercial values. Since land holding size in Himachal Pradesh is small, farmers could form societies and approach the institute for technical knowhow, improved cultivars. Information technology should be used for marketing of their produce.
He highlighted that wide climatic diversity in Himalayan region offers unique opportunities to develop range of products and technologies such as low calorie sweeteners, enzymes and microbial based products of societal and industrial significance. He advised that adoption of green technology should be preferred as far as possible. Application of nanotechnology for enhancing efficacy of bioactive compound and metabolites for effective utilization should be rewarding. He noted that the Himalayan region has a vast bamboo resource which should be exploited for the development of various industrial products such as wooden board, textile yarn, activated charcoal and other industrial products.
Observing that Himalayas are highly suitable for cultivation of high value medicinal, aromatic and other crops of commerce, he suggested that the institute should develop a network of entrepreneurs for cultivation, processing and marketing of the produce in an organized manner. It will not only address the issue of increasing menace due to rising populations of monkeys, wild boar and ungulates in Himachal Pradesh, but will provide higher returns to the farmers as well. Promotion of wild marigold, damask rose, valeriana, stevia, violoa, lavender, large cardamom, Artemisia and rosemary by the Institute is a right step in the direction to strengthen farmers’ income. Similarly, he appreciated the support given to floriculture growers in terms of improved cultivars and agrotechnology that has boosted their income by about 3 times. For this the institute should ensure supply of quality planting material to the farmers and provide scientific back-up for the success of the industry. Similarly, for tackling the current issues of labour shortage and rising cost of tea production, promotion of tea farm mechanization, and development of value added product from tea viz., high value antioxidant molecules tea catechins, is a welcome step since global market of catechins is expected to grow from current value of 4400 tonnes to market 9200 tonnes by 2020. Similarly, tea based wines and ready-to-serve teas also have global demand. He was happy to note that institute has promoted the ready-to-serve local cuisine ‘Kangri Dham’ which is preservative free with longer shelf life for wider marketability.
He applauded the institute’s initiative to establish a research centre in the high altitude location in Lahaul valley to cater to the technological needs of the natives in cold desert area of the state, and appreciated the development made in promoting floriculture industry, particularly lilium cultivation that achieved an annual turn-over of Rs. 4-5 crores, by a group of 150 farmers. The Hon’ble Minister urged the scientists of the institute to popularize other relevant crops and use of biotechnological tools for conservation of rare, endangered and threatened plants of the Himalaya. He emphasized the need to develop skilled manpower around such technologies for sustainable utilization of bioresources. Scientists should develop novel technologies to prevent post harvest losses of commercial crops.
Hon’ble Minister highlighted the need to develop deep scientific understanding on fundamental research for which young scientists and research scholars need to play a greater role. Bioresources in Himalayas should be used for identification of new bio-molecules of therapeutic importance, and developing crop varieties to withstand increasing biotic and abiotic stressed in face of changing climate conditions. He said that nation has high expectations from young scientists who have to think out of the box to take forward the national missions, and emphasized on addressing the need of mountain communities to evolve into Samarth Bharat-Sashakt Bharat. He reminded the message of our Hon’ble Prime Minister to connect with common people of the country through application of science and develop people centric technology in a time bound manner.
The visit of Hon’ble Minister to the institute was highly motivating to the scholars, scientists and staff, farmers and entrepreneurs.
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