CSIR-NEIST 2020 Theme: “Revitalizing NEIST for strengthening North East”
Science, Technology and their interventions are always considered to be the key factors in the changing socio-economic status of the people. Although, application of the S&T based approach to identified problems and societal needs are very much expected but knowledge transfer, low scientific capacity, transnational research networks are always play an important role in reaching to the society.
The development process of NER will be accelerated if the problems of the region can be intervened scientifically. Sustainable uses of resources, employment generation, improvement of quality of life, economic upliftment of the region need to be addressed scientifically. The economy of the NER is based mostly on agriculture. The diverse agro-climatic conditions in the region encourage for growing different horticultural crop groups like fruits, vegetables, spices, plantation crop, medicinal and aromatic plants etc. A wide range of tropical, sub-tropical and temperate fruits such as lemon, mandarin, pineapple, passion fruit, banana, ginger, turmeric, and vegetables, both indigenous and exotic, are grown in the region. In terms of its contribution to the national production, the region accounts for about 5.1% fruits and 4.5% for vegetables. Fruits like pineapple, kiwi, peach, plum, orange, mango, cashew and banana are abundantly cultivated in the North Eastern states. Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), New Delhi has already identified the region as the center of rice germplasms. Similarly, National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR), India designated the North East India as the home of wild relative of crops. Among the 22 agro-biodiversity hotspots in the country, North East India has four agro-biodiversity hotspots i.e. Eastern Himalaya, Brahmaputra Valley, Khasia-Jaintia-Garo hill and North Eastern Hills. Diversified agro-climatic condition from temperate to tropical, fertile soil, intensive rainfall of North East India help to grow the crop like potato, onion, tapioca, sweet potato, tuber crops; ginger, turmeric and chilies among spices; banana, pineapple, orange/other citrus fruits, mango, litchi, cashew, jackfruit among fruit crops, coconut, areca nut, cashew, millets etc. This diversity is not yet utilized and explored. Being enriched in agro diversity, the region has tremendous prospect of food processing and agro industries. Only recently Govt of India has put importance in this sector in the region. Like agri-industry, entire north east India is remain industrially underdeveloped since independence. Average percentage share of industry in GDP during 1999-2000 for north eastern states (excluding Sikkim) were 14.25% (Assam was in highest 18.12 and Mizoram was lowest 2.47%) against the Indian average 19.60% (National Income Statistics, Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, January 2004 for the States and Economic Survey 2002-03, Ministry of Finance, Government of India.). Population structure is another important aspect in the region. In Arunachal Pradesh only 17 people live per square kilometer whereas in Assam 397 people live per square kilometer (average 382 people per square kilometer in India). NER is often designated as organic by default. The land is enough fertile for more agricultural production without addition of any inorganic input. The market of organic agriculture is expanding and generating more demand across the globe. Govt of India has already declared Sikkim as organic states and in coming years entire NER is likely to convert to organic agriculture hub. 18 million hectare of land in NER is suitable for organic agriculture. However, technological intervention in such areas including service sector in food and agro- based industries, organic agriculture will accelerate the growth of industry as well as reduce the unemployment problem in NER with generating sustainable and stronger rural economy. By considering the rich natural resources and prospect of its utilization for economic upliftment of the North East India, a massive endeavour is needed to motivate the people for entrepreneurship development and to develop a chain of small, medium and large industries on available local resources.
As the economy of NER is based on agriculture, covering mainly the rural population, a detail planning with establishing special economic zone in the form of village cluster within specific area is important to manufacture market base items with covering all the supply chain i.e. raw materials processing to manufacturing, packaging, marketing in integrated approach, so that opportunity of mass employment remain possible at every sector. With the prospect of employment including doubling farmer’s income by 2022, the agriculture of NER need to get due emphasis on food grain production as well as production of raw materials for the industries. STINER (Science & Technology Intervention for NER) will address both, the primary producer (farmers) and the entrepreneurs of NER with technological interventions.
CSIR-NEIST launched Special website on COVID-19: A special website on COVID-19 was launched in presence of its staff members who attended through online mode. The portal has been designed and developed by CSIR-NEIST with a goal to disseminate wide array of information on the current COVID-19 pandemic. The URL of the new site is www.neist.res.in/covid19. The “COVID-19 update” web portal is an indigenous platform developed from CSIR-NEIST where users can get all the updates regarding COVID-19. The main objective of the portal is to create awareness among the society about COVID-19. COVID-19 will serve as knowledge source for the COVID pandemic and it will also showcase the ongoing activities in various CSIR labs under different verticals such as Molecular Digital Surveillance, Development rapid and cheap diagnostic kit, New therapies development and drug repurposing, Development of personal protective equipment kit (PPE) and Supply chain. In this portal, users can also get information about various “Myths and Facts” spread around the world about this COVID-19.
A group of dedicative Scientists and Research scholars are working round the clock for maintaining the website and create this portal more robust and knowledge resource as fast as possible. It also has a blog where users can post their questions and clarifications regarding this COVID-19. Our senior Scientists and Medical officers will access this blog and they will give their suggestions on the same.
Dr G Narahari Sastry
Director, CSIR-North East Institute of Science & Technology
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