North-East: Dr. Jitendra Singh, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Earth Sciences; Minister of State (PMO), Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy, and Space, stated that the North-East will be developed as India’s Bio-Economic Hub.
Mega-biodiversity rich zones
According to the Minister, the Eastern Himalayan Region is one of the world’s 34 biodiversity hotspots and one of the world’s mega-biodiversity-rich zones. He stated that biotechnological interventions are needed to put these priceless genetic resources to work for the region’s and nation’s economic progress. He made the remarks on a visit to Imphal’s Institute of Bio-resources and Sustainable Development (IBSD).
Global Bio-manufacturing Hub
According to Dr. Jitendra Singh, India will be acknowledged as a Global Bio-manufacturing Hub by 2025 and will rank among the top five countries in the world, thanks to the Modi government’s persistent and renewed attention. According to him, India’s bio-economy is on track to reach a target of 150 billion dollars by 2025, up from 70 billion dollars now, and will effectively contribute to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s aim of a 5 trillion-dollar GDP by 2024-25.
According to Dr. Jitendra Singh, the Department of Biotechnology has played a key role in building capacity in the North-Eastern region for conducting biotechnology research to address issues specific to the region and implementing programs for the social upliftment of local communities, as the North-Eastern region is a genetic treasure house of plant, animal, and microbial resources, as per Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s directives.
Dr. Jitendra Singh believes that IBSD should not only become a regional center of excellence with cutting-edge facilities but also develop technological packages to produce jobs for the people’s benefit. He went on to say that the Institute should be people-centered and use imaginative and new techniques to win people’s trust via its work.
The Minister went on to say that this institute should become a vibrant, active, and committed center for research, application, and commercialization of technology, products, and processes, as well as promoting enterprises based on the region’s abundant bio-resources, to bring happiness to the entire North-Eastern region.
Phyto-pharmaceutical Mission of North Eastern Region
Dr. Jitendra Singh stated that the DBT-funded Phyto-pharmaceutical Lab Facility at IBSD is advancing the North Eastern Region’s Phyto-pharmaceutical Mission. This mission, which aims to promote the documenting, scientific validation, and evaluation of traditional healthcare practices, is a significant step that takes on added importance in the context of the North-extensive East’s plant resources and various traditional healthcare practices.
According to him, transformational approaches to developing products, processes, and technologies with local bio-resources will aid in the development of traditional knowledge-based therapeutic agents, resulting in regional socio-economic development and benefits for traditional health care practitioners.
Examples of successful interventions in North-East
Dr. Jitendra Singh gave several examples of successful interventions, including a project at the Bio-Resources Development Centre in Shillong and the Institute of Horticulture Technology in Mandira, Assam, on pilot-scale demonstrations of strawberry cultivation with sustainable agro-technological interventions using high-quality planting material in farmers’ fields in Meghalaya. About 50 tissue-culture grown plantlets of premium strawberry types are proposed to be handed to Manipur farmers, he said.
Similarly, the DBT has devised a plan to boost the production and productivity of the Khasi Mandarin, a valuable fruit crop, by creating high-quality planting material using the shoot-tip grafting technique. During the three-year duration of the initiative, the program aims to produce four lakhs disease-free, high-quality Khasi Mandarin and Sweet Orange plants, as well as enhance the capacity of at least 1,000 farmers in the region. Fifty grafted Khasi Mandarin plants have been grown at the AAU-Citrus Research Station in Tinsukia, Assam, and will be distributed to farmers in Manipur, according to the Minister.
The DBT has built a Biotech-KISAN Hub at the Horticultural Research Station of the Assam Agricultural University (AAU), Kahikuchi, for the large-scale production of high-quality Malbhog banana planting material, which is in high demand in Assam. Farmers in Manipur are expected to receive about 50 macro-propagated Malbhog bananas.