DBT to establish Biotech KISAN hubs across India

The Department of Biotechnology is set to establish 15 hubs in partnership with multiple institutions across India for carrying out the agricultural biotechnology research to tackle major issues affecting productivity and quality of agri products


New Delhi: The agriculture productivity of the country has been severely affected in both quality and quantity. There are variety of reasons affecting productivity including factors linked to water, soil, seed and market.

In a major effort to utilize the biotechnological research methodologies for creating solutions to tackle agricultural issues, the Department of Biotechnology plans to establish major hubs across India. DBT’s mission programme, Biotech-Krishi Innovation Science Application Network (Biotech-KISAN) plans to connect India’s farmers with Indian and global best in science.

In this backdrop, the DBT has issued a special call for proposals to establish Biotech-KISAN hubs in the four agro-climatic zones in the country: Eastern Plateau and Hills; Gujarat Plain and Hills; Western Dry Region; and Islands.

Each of these hubs will get financial assistance for initially 2 years of ₹ 60 lakhs per year and on the basis of a review for additional 3 years. For each partnering institute, budget for each collaborating institution and Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) is ₹ 5 lakhs per year for each specific activity as defined in the application.

Biotech-KISAN will be implemented in 15 agro-climatic zones of India in phased manner with the objective. Linking available science and technology to the farm by first understanding the problem of the local farmer and provide solutions to those problems. The working together, in close conjunction, of scientists and farmers is the only way to improve the working conditions of small and marginal farmers. This programme aims to work with small and marginal farmers especially the woman farmer for better agriculture productivity through scientific intervention and evolving best farming practices in the Indian context.

The response to the call for proposals can be sent directly to the Department of Biotechnology by 31st January, 2019. Click to know the details.

Each hub will create a network by developing strong linkages with top quality scientific institutions, State Agricultural Universities, Krishi Vigyan Kendras, existing state agriculture extension services and other farmers’ organizations in the region as well as linkages with leading international institutions and organizations.

Biotech-KISAN Hub will have a tinkering laboratory. The core activities of the hub will include understanding the problems of the local farmer; scouting for available technologies and solutions to problems of farmers in the region; demonstration and scale-up programmes for implementing the solutions to the problems of farmers – addressing water, soil, seed and marketing issues; creation of strong scientists-farmers Interaction platform and connectivity; training programmes for the farmer and immersion programmes for scientists; communication set up through radio and TV and connectivity through social media; individual thematic fellowship programmes for selected farmers in the zone at hightech science laboratories; special solution-driven thematic fellowships to women farmers (Mahila Kisan Biotech Fellowship) to develop them as leaders and grass root scientists.

The hub and its facilitator will partner with at least 3 institutions / KVKs etc. and should enter into agreement with each of the collaborating partner / institution with defined contribution for achieving the envisaged objectives. For each partner Institute, it will be mandatory to participate with the hub and its activities and for this a separate budget would be provided for each of them.

The activities of the partnering institute will include conducting training programmes for farmers in laboratories of scientific research institutions, exposing farmers to leading science laboratories to develop them as scientific leaders at grass root level; providing solution and support to agriculture problems related to water, soil, seed, diseases and marketing issues in respective areas; the subject and scope of training programme will include good agriculture practices. The duration of the training will be 5 to 10 days.

The Programme is intended for those institutions having substantial infrastructure and commitment to undertake farmers’ oriented outreach programmes. The host institutions should have a functional laboratory, certificate of performance either by farmers, Directorate of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR) recognition, Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR), Department of Agriculture and Cooperation or voluntary NGO status.

Why does India require such programmes? 

The drought, flood, availability and poor quality are major issues within Indian agriculture scenario. Also are the poor soil health, lack of application of modern technologies in agriculture due to lack of knowledge and awareness, abiotic and biotic stress due to climate change. Besides that the lack of availability of quality agricultural planting material at affordable cost to small and marginal farmers has been witnessed in a major way. The collapse of extension system for dissemination of new technologies among farmers, lack of use of available bio-resources at farm or village level for proper nutrient management and processing, packaging and marketing.

The problems faced by the Indian farmer are special, small land holdings are the norm, a very small number of livestock which is often the primary source of livelihood and 15 different agro climatic zones. Solutions developed in the lab, primarily in the developed world do not necessarily address the problems faced by the Indian farmer.

There is a need for direct linkage between science laboratories and farms; it is now imperative that the Indian scientist understand the problems of the local farmer and provide solutions to those problems. Likewise, it is necessary to expose farmers to the scientific solutions available by bringing him to the scientific environment/laboratory. This close interaction and need based research will allow innovative solutions and technologies to be developed and applied at farm level.

*This news is based on a release by DBT.