4) ICRISAT initiates agreements with new partners on food processing research

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) initiated the functioning of the NutriPlus Knowledge Center in the Agri-Science Park @ ICRISAT with the signing of one Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and announcing two prospective agreements today.

The Director General of ICRISAT, Dr William Dar, signed the MOU with Mr V Bhaskar Rao, Managing Director, Nandan Biomatrix Ltd., at the global headquarters of ICRISAT at Patancheru, near Hyderabad, India.

Through this MoU, Nandan Bio Matrix Ltd., which had established research and development facilities in the Agri-Science Park (ASP) at ICRISAT, will be handing their equipment over to NutriPlus Knowledge Center. Nandan Biomatrix will become a member of NutriPlus and continue to operate as a NutriPlus partner under the ASP.

The two MOUs that are on the anvil are with GreenPort Corporation and Yes Bank Ltd.

Speaking after signing the MOU, ICRISAT Director General Dr William Dar said that the agreements further strengthen the Institute’s partnerships with the private sector. “Through the NutriPlus Knowledge Center we want to strengthen enterprise in the food processing industry, which will in turn link with the poor farmers of the dryland to improve their livelihoods,” Dr Dar said.

Dr Dar said that India produces about 600 million tons of food products, yet India’s share in international food trade is only 1.5%, with value addition standing at 8% of the total production. There is so much promise for public and private sector to come together to substantially increase the production of value-added products. This will in turn result in higher economic returns to the farmers.

Dr Dar added that the Agri-Science Park @ ICRISAT is part of the Genome Valley of the Government of Andhra Pradesh, and the NutriPlus Knowledge Center is a very important initiative for the development of horticulture and food products.

ICRISAT, he said, is a pioneer in bringing the strength and capacity of the public and private sector. “We are here to catalyze and facilitate this process for the NutriPlus Knowledge Center.”

Speaking about the funding for NutriPlus, Dr Dar said that the Government of Andhra Pradesh has made a contribution of Rs 2 crores, and ICRISAT contribution in kind would be to the tune of Rs 4.5 crores. The total outlay over a period of five years is expected at Rs 30 crores, of which the Government of India will contribute Rs 5 crores.

According to Dr Barry Shapiro, Managing Director of the ASP at ICRISAT, the NutriPlus Knowledge Center will blend the commercial vigor of the private sector with the scientific and technical expertise of ICRISAT to deliver projects and products that will strengthen the hands of the poor farmers.

The NutriPlus Knowledge Center received the first tranche of funding from the Government of Andhra Pradesh in early 2008.

NutriPlus will be a platform for R&D to develop new food products and innovation in food processing with focus on cereals, legumes, fruits and vegetables, and medicinal and aromatic plants. It will be developed as a public-private partnership model and backstop food processing related research requirements for ICRISAT and partners.

The objectives of NutriPlus include:

  • Make available technologies ready for commercialization and transfer;
  • Provide infrastructure and platform for innovation and research for the private sector;
  • Take up collaborative and contract research;
  • Align strategically with food research Institutions (in India and abroad);
  • Provide knowledge support to the private sector;
  • Undertake training and capacity building programs for partners; and
  • Offer food safety testing and services.

It is planned that the NutriPlus Knowledge Center will be developed over a period of 5 years with a total outlay of approximately US$ 5.25 million. It will also collaborate with several central and state government organizations, IITs and agricultural research universities in India.

The collaborations are also from countries outside India. In January 2008, ICRISAT and Crop and Food Research, a Crown Research Institute of New Zealand, signed a MOU in Lincoln, New Zealand for developing NutriPlus.

For further information, contact Mr A R Ilyas, Chief Operating Officer of ASP at a(dot)ilyas(at)cgiar(dot)org.

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