To address the challenges of Nano-Biotechnology in agriculture sector, a two-day international conference was organised by TERI Deakin Nanobiotechnology Centre in association with Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India, in New Delhi.
Evolving nutrient imbalance issues in soil due to excessive use of chemical fertilisers resulted in reduction of productivity and environmental problems. These issues have created a need to develop innovative and sustainable solutions by using limited existing resources.
To deal with such emerging issues, TERI Deakin Nanobiotechnology Centre has unveiled “Zero Draft Policy for Regulation of Nanoproducts in Agriculture”, during a session – Nanobiotechnology for Agriculture: From Research to Innovation in the event.
On this occasion, Ashok Chawla, Chairman, TERI, said, “Nanobiotechnology is the key to optimum use of inputs in Indian agriculture.”
Speaking about the conference and release of the Zero Draft Policy, Dr Ajay Mathur, Director General, TERI, said, “The way we use fertilizers has led to large scale harm to health and soil.”
“We look to ways in which we can take innovations from the lab to the fields,” he added.
According to the United Nations (UN), India accounts for 17.84% of the world’s population and by 2025; India’s population is likely to exceed 1.5 billion, simultaneously raising the demand for food grains to over 300 million tonnes as against the current production (2015-2016) of 252 million tonnes.
The current fertiliser consumption of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium has been registered at 23.59 million tonnes (2013-2014). However, the removal of nutrients from soil is far higher than the additions, thereby creating a net negative balance of about 10 million tonnes from soil every year and causing a serious threat to soil health.
On the occasion, Professor Peter Hodgson, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Deakin University, said,”The idea is to offer a platform to encourage research in relevant areas of agriculture and health for socio-economic development of both the countries with intervention of nanobiotechnology, which is already in progress at the TERI-Deakin Nanobiotechnology Centre. Here, we are talking about the community issues, agriculture issues and health issues, for a healthy society. We need to make an impact in research so that it remains valid for next 20 years and beyond. Our focus will be to do projects which will yield output in the coming years.”
The conference created an interactive platform to address the agriculture issues to showcase technology snapshots, discussions and deliberations in focused thematic sessions to understand the innovation space and scope for nanobiotechnology interventions.
Highlighting the expected outcomes of the conference, TERI Deakin Nanobiotechnology Centre Director Dr Alok Adholeya said, “Resource-use efficiency is a prime target not only to achieve higher crop productivity but also to safeguard human health due to the leachates going into the environment and causing many health hazards.”
Nanotechnology is observed as rapidly evolving field that has the potential to boost agriculture and food systems. The conference aimed to develop a deeper understanding of advances in nanobiotechnology in relevant areas, encourage interaction within the research community for wider application and benefit society by innovating to achieve sustainability in agricultural practices in India.