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Improving agricultural yield and quality through tissue culture technology
Improving agricultural yield and quality through tissue culture technology

July 4, 2016

New Delhi: The Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science & Technology, the Certification Agency for Tissue Culture Plants organised a stakeholder meet on the “National Certification System for Tissue Culture Raised Plants (NCS-TCP)” today in New Delhi. The event was organized by BCIL to raise awareness about the opportunities under the NCS-TCP to ensure production and distribution of quality tissue culture planting materials.
Realizing the potential of plant tissue culture to revolutionize the growth of agriculture in India, the Department of Biotechnology established the National Certification System for Tissue Culture Raised Plants (NCS-TCP) in 2006 under the Seeds Act 1966 with the objective of mentoring the tissue culture companies for production and distribution of disease-free and high quality tissue culture plants.

The NCS-TCP has made a substantial impact since its inception a decade ago. Since then, 96 companies have been recognized and five test laboratories and two referral centres have been accredited under this system. So far, around 80 million tissue culture plants have been certified through this system. It is important to note that there has been no major virus outbreak in the last 10 years since the inception of the NCS-TCP.
“Being an agrarian-based economy, we need to streamline our expertise in the fields of biotechnology and innovation to improve our agricultural proficiency. Our scientists in the Department of Biotechnology have made marvelous strides in the field and improving communication between sectors to work together will definitely boost our knowledge and efforts,” said Mr. Y.S. Chowdary, MoS, Science and Technology, Government of India.

With increasing demand for agricultural, forestry, plantation and horticulture crops, the demand for high-quality, high-yielding, disease-free planting stock has increased significantly over the last two decades. Plant tissue culture has emerged as an important biotechnology and commercially viable tool to multiply elite varieties of high quality, disease free and high yielding plants rapidly in the laboratory irrespective of the season of the year.
At present, there are around 200 commercial tissue culture companies in India with gross installed production capacity of about 500 million plantlets per annum. Banana, Potato, Sugarcane, Apple, Pineapple, Strawberry, Gerbera, Anthurium, Lillium, Orchids, Bamboo, Date Palm, Teak and pomegranate are some of the major plants tissue cultured in India. The industry witnesses a gross installed production capacity of about 500 million plantlets per annum and an actual production of approximately 350 million plants.

“The unifying vision of increasing crop yield and improving the lives of farmers and the general populace drives our efforts in the Department of Biotechnology and the Department of Agriculture. Through mentorship and guidance to tissue culture companies through the NCS-TCP, we are looking to significantly improve our agricultural production to ensure food security in the country,” said Dr. K.VijayRaghavan, Secretary, Department of Biotechnology, Government of India.

The plant tissue culture market in India is estimated at Rs 500 crores. In-spite of the programme not being mandatory for the tissue culture industry, within the short period of its implementation so far, over 90% of tissue culture companies are part of the programme.

The Minister of State for Science and Technology, Mr. Y. S. Chowdary; Secretary, DBT, Dr. K. Vijayraghavan; and Dr. C.R. Bhatia, former Secretary, DBT and Chairman Apex Board, NCS-TCP and Dr Renu Swarup Senior Adviser DBT , were present at the event. The event also saw the participation of about 80 tissue culture companies, farmers from key states along with government officials of the State Horticulture Mission and Horticulture Department.