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Nagaland

‘Plant Tissue Culture’ – a boon for Nagaland economy

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By EMN Updated: Aug 05, 2013 1:17 am
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Temshinaro | EMN
Dimapur, August 4

“A day will come where job opportunities and economic condition of our state will be at rise and economy will grow if Plant Tissue Culture (PTC) comes to action in the present scenario of Nagaland”, stated Deepak Chetri, Senior Technical Officer.The tissue culture laboratory located in 4th mile, Dimapur was established on a pilot basis during 2001-02 by the department of Agriculture with an objective for micro-propagation of sugarcane. But dogged by poor infrastructure and shortage of trained personnel its potential never materialized.
Ten years later, and an intensive re examination of the performance of the department during 2011-12, a decision to restore the laboratory with minimum modification of infrastructure and manpower has finally yielded results. In one year the PTC has successfully standardized the tissue culture protocols and developed tissue culture planting material of bananas and orchids. Besides bananas and orchid, the PTC has also produced 20,000 numbers of mandarin saplings through embryo culture from the seeds procured from the state horticulture department. These have also been distributed to the farmers. The department also has a ‘Crop Experimental Plot’ where plants are sowed after they are generated from the lab. Once ready they are transplanted to the farmers fields.
Of the various aspects of biotechnology, tissue culture is one technique that has been found to have ready application in several areas. The principal one is the propagation of plants. PTC is a technique that helps regenerating a whole plant from a small tissue or a cell. Greater output, economy of time and space, freedom from seasonal constraints, clonal uniformity and disease free nature of the regenerants are the major advantage that micro-propagation has over conventional methods of propagation.
While talking to Eastern Mirror, Deepak Chetri stated that with upgradation, the laboratory will be able to increase the present capacity of generating 10,000 plantlets annually to one lakh plantlets.
In Nagaland, one of the major constraints for overall development in agro sector is the lack of Quality Planting Material (QPM). The farmers in the state have no choice but to resort to low quality planting material which ends up in catastrophe especially with perennial plants as the full potential of the plants are not realized. Huge funds are annually expended by the state government agencies and organizations dealing in land based activities in the procurement of tissue culture seedlings from outside the state at exorbitant costs.
The government would do well to focus its attention on production of QPM in bamboo, medicinal and aromatic plants (MAP), orchids and high value horticultural crops as there is a great demand locally as well as in the international market.
Nagaland Bamboo Development Agency (NBDA) is one existing agency which could do with an upgraded PTC. With an increasing demand in paper and related industries, the area under natural bamboo vegetation is rapidly dwindling and the demand for taw material is outpacing the supply. The NBDA during 2006 undertook an ambitious plan for expanding bamboo growth area targetting 50,000 ha to be completed by 12th plan.Till date only 50% of the area could be covered by use of vegetative propagation. The cost involved is high due to bulkiness of the planting materials. Moreover, some of the species cannot be propagated through seeds. In such a scenario one alternative is to resort to tissue culture plants instead of importing bamboo plants from places like Jagiroad in Assam at huge costs.
Deepak Chetri on talking about the importance of the PTC in Nagaland cited that PTC has the power to bring endangered plant species to live and those tree that do not produce seeds can also be generated in thousands with the help of just 30 to 40 chemicals.
In Nagaland where the state’s economy is currently stagnant, PTC can play a vital role by helping the farmers improve their harvest and provide job opportunities both in private and public sector. Deepak Chetri also urged that the government should adopt convergence policy and further upgrade the laboratory in its infrastructure and trained manpower. The PTC of the Agriculture department also plans on outsourcing the product/services to other line department, organization such as Bamboo mission, Bio-resource Mission, Department of horticulture and forest and institute like CIH, and interested NGOs. He also mentioned that institutional linkages should be created by collaborating and networking closely with research institutes in order to keep abreast with new technologies and changing trends.

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By EMN Updated: Aug 05, 2013 1:17:43 am