Shri Anurag Singh Thakur, Hon'ble Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs, Government of India visited CSIR-Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology, Palampur, on 1 March 2021. Dr Sanjay Kumar, Director, CSIR-IHBT, welcomed the honourable minister and apprised him about the research and development activities of the institute.
In his address, Shri Thakur appreciated the research work done by the institute and envisioned that the agro-technologies of medicinal, aromatic and floral crops developed by the institute can lead the farmers towards self-reliance. He called upon the farmers and entrepreneurs to adopt commercially important crops developed by the institute for societal benefit.
He said that the Government of India has established National Research Foundation focused on national priority research thrust areas and earmarked Rs 50,000 Crore for five years. He informed the audience that reforms initiated by the current government have led India to become one of the top four startup nations in the world.
He further said that there is a need for the transfer of technologies from the lab to the field so that farmers get benefited through their adoption and value addition. Besides product quality, packaging, competitive pricing and marketing, emphasis should be given to the size and scalability. He advised the scientific fraternity to aim at a multidisciplinary futuristic breakthrough in research and to develop a road map for the next 20 years.
He said that region-wise clusters targeting a specific crop should be developed for the benefit of farmers and the industry and assured full support from the government for such initiatives. He acknowledged the efforts made by the scientists and staff of CSIR-IHBT during the testing time of the COVID-19 pandemic by establishing the RT-PCR Testing facility and also developing products for its management and control.
In the presence of the Honorable Minister, the institute signed MoUs with the National Institute of Technology, Jalandhar (Punjab) and Hamirpur (H.P.) for mutual cooperation on academic and research. Also, agreements were signed with four entrepreneurs for technology transfer and product development in different areas.
On this occasion, Shri Thakur distributed wild marigold seeds and the planting material of Gladiolus and Alstroemeria to the farmers. Brochures on 'Tulip Agro-techniques' and 'Saffron Agro-techniques in Non-Traditional Areas' were also released by the Honorable Minister. He visited the research facilities and exhibition showcasing different products and technologies of the institute. Prior to this, he laid the foundation stone for the construction of new houses on the campus.
Earlier, Dr Sanjay Kumar, Director, CSIR-IHBT in his presentation highlighted the sustainable utilisation of Himalayan bioresources for boosting bioeconomy in the region. He mentioned that it is a matter of pride that the institute has ranked at the ninth position among the 37 institutes of CSIR as per SciMago Institutional Ranking.
He said that under CSIR Aroma Mission, the Institute has distributed the planting material for the cultivation of wild marigold to the farmers. Distillation units were set up by the Institute in different regions for the processing of aromatic crops, especially wild marigold. IHBT is playing an active role in increasing the income of farmers in the rural areas of Himachal Pradesh by promoting aromatic crops such as wild marigold, damask rose, lemongrass, etc. Capacity-building among farmers, employment generation, entrepreneurship development through training programmes is one of the major activities of the institute. The Institute is also making a significant contribution in floriculture and honey production, which in turn, has helped in improving the livelihood of farmers. Besides, planting material and technology for the cultivation of heeng and saffron were transferred to the farmers of Lahaul and Spiti, Chamba, Kullu and Mandi districts of the state. The Institute has initiated the cultivation of commercially important spice crops in the region. He informed that the Institute has developed products containing iron, protein and fibre to combat malnutrition. Shiitake mushroom capsules rich in vitamin D have been prepared and cultivation of this mushroom has been promoted.