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Dr Harsha Vardhan visits Nagaland for biotech boost

Minister for Science and Technology and Earth Sciences visit to Nagaland was a boost to biotechnology programmes and ongoing facilitating work for the North Eastern region. Several programmes were inaugurated in the state.

Some of them were DBT’s Twinning Network Programme on Chemical Ecology, Biotech Infrastructure Facility (BIF) at ICAR-National Research Centre on Mithun at Jharnapani.

He visited the Nagaland Science & Technology Council (NASTEC) and launched DBT’s Twinning Network Programme on Chemical Ecology of North Eastern Region. The twinning Network Programme on Chemical Ecology is a new collaborative and interdisciplinary programme in Chemical Ecology between institutions in the North-Eastern Region (NER) and partners in Bangalore. This platform will provide a strong stimulus to on-going research in the NER, while building enduring research and training links with partner institutions in Bangalore.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan inaugurated Biotech Infrastructure Facility (BIF) at ICAR-National Research Centre on Mithun at Jharnapani, Medziphema. The facility was funded by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Ministry of Science & Technology, Government of India. The Minister visited the Mithun Farm of ICAR-NRCM to witness the modern scientific rearing of Mithun under the semi-intensive system at the institute’s farm. The Hon’ble Minister also interacted with farm officials and staff. The workers at the farm demonstrated how Mithun feeds were prepared and how the cattle were taken care of. The Hon’ble Minister met with all the scientists and staff working at the facility and appreciated the efforts being made by them in providing value addition by biotechnological intervention in the production of citrus products in Nagaland.

He also apprised that the preliminary study has revealed that the quality of RTS beverage and squash prepared from Assam lemon following the protocols developed by IIT, Kharagpur was of very good quality and free from bitterness immediately after preparation.

It was also apprised that the steps for raising of rootstock seedlings in containerized nursery and wedge grafting in Khasi mandarin and Sweet orange is standardized and large scale study of the enzymatic debittering of Assam lemon juice has also been successfully conducted.

Fizzy drinks, Pectin Extraction, Juice concentrates by Flash Evaporation and Freeze Drying, Cold press and Hydro distilled peel oil has been standardized by the facility and an innovative approach for preparation of carbonated drinks is initiated.

The Hon’ble Minister was impressed with the research achievements under the project and he extended his heart felt good wishes to all the scientists, researchers and other staff of ICAR Research Centre for NE in Jharnapani. He extended full cooperation of the concerned Department under his ministry for further enhanced R&D and extension initiatives in the region. He also encouraged the scientists to come up with more and more new research ideas leading towards employment generation and development of North Eastern Region of India.

The Minister went to DBT Healthcare Laboratory and Research Centre, Naga Hospital Authority Kohima (NHAK) in presence of Nagaland Health and Family Welfare Minister, Mr. P Longon. The research laboratory was funded by DBT, Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India. He was accompanied by senior doctors of NHAK, officials from the department of health and family welfare and others.

Dr Harsha Vardhan informed that there were more than 40 cases of Paragonimiasis in Nagaland, reported mostly from rural areas. Paragoimiasis is a food borne parasitic infection caused by eating undercooked crab or crayfish. The study revealed that paragonimiasis has been endemic in Nagaland and about half of the patients attending the TB clinic were actually suffering from pulmonary paragonimiasis. The Hon’ble Minister urged the researchers to come forward to find a solution to the problem of paragonimiasis by involving local tribes and policy makers with support from DBT and DST.

He also visited Dimapur and Kohima in the State of Nagaland. Dr. T. Madhan Mohan, Adviser, DBT and Mr. Vinod Kumar, Dy. Manager, NER-BPMC, BCIL, New Delhi accompanied the Hon’ble Minister to Nagaland. He visited several institutions/labs in the state of Nagaland where the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science & Technology has created research facilities and R&D opportunities for the NER scientists.