Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan to inaugurate R&D Sub Centre of KSCSTE-JNTBGRI at Kuzhur in Thrissur on January 12, 2019

R&D Sub Centre of KSCSTE-JNTBGRI to be inaugurated by Pinarayi Vijayan at Kuzhur in Thrissur on January 12, 2019

Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan to inaugurate R&D Sub Centre of KSCSTE-JNTBGRI at Kuzhur in Thrissur on January 12, 2019

The inauguration of the first phase of the R&D Sub Centre of Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment (KSCSTE) – Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute (JNTBGRI) will be held at Kuzhur in Thrissur district on January 12, 2019 (tomorrow).

Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan to inaugurate R&D Sub Centre of KSCSTE-JNTBGRI at Kuzhur in Thrissur on January 12, 2019.

The Kerala Chief Minister and President of KSCSTE, Pinarayi Vijayan will formally inaugurate the Sub Centre at 10.00 PM, Dr. R. Prakashkumar, Director, KSCSTE-JNTBGRI told The Indian.News in an exclusive interaction with the Editor, Jayashankar Menon.

Dr. R. Prakashkumar, Director, KSCSTE-JNTBGRI

Dr R Prakashkumar was appointed as Director, KSCSTE-JNTBGRI from June 1, 2018. Dr. Prakshkumar is the Fellow of the Linnean Society of London, Academy of Environmental Biology, Indian Botanical Society, Indian Association for Angiosperm Taxonomy, Electron Microscope Society of India, Indian Association of Bio Medical Scientists, National Academy of Biological Sciences, Kerala Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Sciences, India. What is more, he is also a member of the Commission on Eco-system Management, IUCN and Fresh Water Specialists Group, IUCN. Dr Prakashkumar is recipient of several Awards and has published more than 100 research papers in the field of plant biology.

PH Kurian, Executive Vice President of KSCSTE will deliver the welcome address, while VR Sunilkumar, the MLA of Kodungallur will deliver the Presidential Address, which will be followed by a report presentation by Dr. K Satheeshkumar, Principal Scientist and Scientist-in-Charge. Pinarayi Vijayan will then formally inaugurate the R&D Sub Centre. EP Jayarajan, Minister for Industries and Sports, Government of Kerala; VS Sunilkumar, State Minister for Agriculture; Prof C Moideen, State Minister for Local Self Government; Prof C Ravindranath, State Minister for Education and TN Prathapan, Ex-MLA of Kodungallur will address the gathering. Mary Thomas, President of the District Panchayath – Thrissur; Jaya Chandran, Block President; P Shanthakumary, President of Kuzhur Grama Panchayath and Dr Sharmila Mary Joseph, Managing
Director of KSIDC will be felicitated at the event. Dr. R Prakashkumar will deliver the Vote of Thanks.

The Chief Minister of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijay had earlier tweeted: “Putting science to work for common people: KSCSTE’s new Research Institute in Kuzhur, Thrissur will revive traditional industries based on pandanus (screwpine). The Institute will also focus on value added products. It will house a Training Centre for Women in the area.”

Also in social media post on Facebook @CMOKerala, Pinarayi Vijayan noted, “We must put science to work for the benefit of common people,” a theme, which the Chief Minister often reminds in meetings with science and technology professionals. He said that the KSCSTE had imbibed this message and launched a new initiative in this direction. Their new research institute in Kuzhur, Thrissur will focus on supporting cottage industries, protection of river banks and value added products from agricultural produce.

R&D Sub Centre of KSCSTE-JNTBGRI to be inaugurated by Pinarayi Vijayan at Kuzhur in Thrissur on January 12, 2019

“It will be a subsidiary of the Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Garden and Research Institute in Palode in the capital city of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram and will be established with the support of Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation. The institute is aiming at expanding the cultivation of pandanus (screwpine). It has a modern lab to facilitate the production of value added products. There is also a centre for providing scientific training to women in the area. The institute will help
to revive the traditional industries based on pandanus (screwpine) in Kodungallur and its surrounding areas”, Pinarayi Vijayan added.

Environmental Damage

India has witnessed exponential industrial growth since the enactment of economic liberalisation policies in 1991. This increase in growth in the resource intensive Manufacturing sector is enabled and facilitated by an ever-increasing rate of material use leading to manifold impacts to the environment. The cost of environmental damage has been estimated at approximately $32 billion as per figures identified by the National Productivity Council of India. It has been well accepted all over the world that every development in the society should be free from devastation of our existing nature and environment,.

The recent floods in Kerala that had caused immense environmental damage. Photo: CMOKerala FB.

About various efforts being taken up from different quarters, the official statement said, “Many of our health problems are due to environmental pollution and consumption of vegetables, fruits and other agricultural products that are produced using various harmful chemicals and other pesticides. Nowadays most of us knowingly or unknowingly use the word “Eco friendly” in our day today life. “Eco friendly” denotes the products or the activities of human beings in a way which is friendly to the environment. Eco friendly products are nothing but products that are being manufactured with the thought that the procedure of producing as well as distributing those products are not having any kind of negative impacts or harm to the environment or ecology. Considering the significance of maintaining our environment clean and pollution free, several efforts are being made from various quarters including public and private sectors to boost up environment friendly industries for the sustainable development of our society.”

Sustainable Utilisation of Natural Resources

Sustainable usages of natural resources in Kerala.

Speaking about the systematic approach pertaining to the issues of developing suitable strategies for sustainable utilisation of natural resources, the statement said, “Kerala is an abode of vast array of natural resources and holding a unique position among the states of India. Kerala is also renowned for its rich green landscape with plenty of water resources. Though we are very rich with plant and other natural wealth, no significant efforts have been initiated to tap these natural
resources effectively to develop product(s)/processes so far with few exceptions. Hence systematic approach pertaining to the issues of developing suitable strategies for sustainable utilisation of natural resources leading to product development is imperative.”

Laying emphasis on the development of research facilities, press note said, “Kerala has been identified as the Centre of Origin of many plant taxa and also popular in traditional cottage industries using coir and other natural fibres. Apart from that Kerala is also branded with many Ayurvedic products for a variety of uses. Considering the importance of such products coupled with huge demand in national as well as international markets, development of research facilities for the
refinement of existing technology leading to product development and marketing is very vital. Besides, improvement of the primitive technology used in the cottage industries as well as ensuring the availability of natural resources in a sustainable manner to the workers for their lively hood are also found very important.”

Evolution of the project

Shedding more insight on the current status of the proposed Centre, another official said, “The present project is part of Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute, Palode in Thiruvananthapuram. The setting up of the present R&D Sub Centre at Kuzhur has a sequential growth starting from 2010 with the involvement of Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC). As part of the ‘Constituency Development programme’ of the Government of Kerala in 2010, Kodungallur constituency was selected. As per KSIDC’s findings, it was reported that the cause of declining screw pine cottage industry was due to dearth of raw materials. It was further scrutinised and recognised the importance of scientific input to address to circumvent the issues of screw pine availability and hence the present R&D centre initiated.”

Plant Tissue Culture

Plant Tissue Culture in KSCSTE, Kerala.

While elaborating on the major activities and expected specific products/processes, the senior official said, “The first activity is the setting up of Plant Tissue Culture Laboratory for large scale multiplication of natural fibre yielding plants with special emphasis on screw pine plants and other economically important agri- horticulturals. The expected outcome from these products include different cultivars of banana for domestic as well as outside Kerala, production of screw pine (different varieties including a long leaved species from Andaman) for reviving the dejected cottage industry, the plants so propagated would also be used for protecting the seashores from tsunami and establishing congenial condition for fish breeding, tissue culture mass production of spice crops (cardamom and nutmeg), mass production of pine apple through sale of plants, the is aiming at becoming self sustained in three years.”

Production of Quality Natural Fibres

Production of Quality Natural Fibres initiated by KSCSTE, Kerala.

“The second activity will be the scientific validation of quality and durability of natural fibres (screw pine) leading to productisation and technology transfer. The expected product/process includes production of quality natural fibre from different plant species including screw pines for rejuvenating the cottage industries as well as making attractive products. Furthermore, technology would be developed for easy harvesting of screw pine leaves (currently, collection of leaves is very hard as the leaves are highly thorny). The quality natural fibre developed through scientific validation will be transferred to entrepreneurs and the technology/process developed will also be made available to women workers employed in the cottage industry,” the official pointed out.

Modular Type Poly Houses

Speaking about the third activity, the official concurred, “The initiative includes cost-effective modular poly house design and development of package of practice for homestead organic cultivation of vegetables. Technology for ready made assembled modular type poly houses will eventually be one of the most important and attractive products that would certainly help popularising vegetable cultivation even in 100 square feet terrace.”

People Participation

According to Dr. Prakashkumar, development of technology for the value addition of wild edible fruits/vegetables with people participation is part of the fourth activity. “Hitherto relatively less-known/underutilised wild edible vegetables, fruits, herbals etc., collected with the participation of tribal people will be used for making high-value products including neutraceuticals and for developing herbal health supplements.”

Last, but not the least, the statement added: “Development of effective organic pesticides and package of practices for pesticide-free open house farming leading to sustainable yield of agricultural crops will be the fifth initiative. Natural resources will also be used for developing effective insect/pest repellents (organic pesticides) for wide spectrum of agri-crops.”