The North East Region (NER) of India is a biological treasure trove that has not been fully explored. There are, for example, around 800 medicinal plants and herbs in a remote area of Sikkim alone, their properties known to only a fast vanishing population of local shamans, and their active ingredients largely uncharacterised. In fact, NER constitutes one of the richest hotspots of biodiversity of the country, and most of it remains to be characterised for its medicinal, aromatic, edibility, ecological and ornamental values.
Besides, the sublime climatic and rich soil conditions are just excellent for agriculture, plantations and sericulture. The tropical climate of the region with high rainfall and plenty of sunlight coupled with unique bio-geographical positioning is responsible for rich biodiversity floral and faunal. Occupying just eight per cent of the country’s geographical area, the region is home to about 50 per cent of its entire floristic wealth.
Biotechnological research & development work in NER holds the promise of yielding highly profitable patents on endemic species. The rich genetic resources spread across diverse ecosystems and nurtured by indigenous communities, provide ample opportunities for furthering economic development of the region. Thus, NER offers unique potential for biotechnology-based interventions for overall development of the region.
In 2009-10, the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) set up the North Eastern Region-Biotechnology Programme Management Cell (NER-BPMC) through Biotech Consortium India Limited (BCIL) for coordination and monitoring of biotechnology programmes in the North Eastern States of India as part of its commitment towards the promotion of biotechnology activities in the North Eastern Region. The NER-BPMC works in close cooperation with various government agencies/ministries/ departments at the central and state levels, along with universities and research institutions for development and implementation of various programmes.
NER-BPMC has initiated a number of activities towards biotech based development of the NER in the following areas:
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Dr T Madhan Mohan, Adviser,
Department of Biotechnology,
Ministry of Science and Technology, New Delhi