ICRISAT and Varsha Bioscience and Technology India Pvt Ltd (VBTIPL), a Hyderabad-based bioproducts company, recently signed an agreement to work together in the field of crop health management. A joint research proposal on plant disease management based on Streptomyces technology has also been submitted to the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), Government of India. Dr Arvind Kumar, DDG-Research, ICRISAT, and Dr A John Peter, Managing Director, VBTIPL, signed the Collaboration Agreement on 5 October 2021.
Dr Rajeev Varshney, Research Program Director, Accelerated Crop Improvement, ICRISAT, said, “ICRISAT has deep penetration in both East & Southern Africa and West & Central Africa. We should use this opportunity to showcase beneficial microbial products through large-scale demonstrations in African semi-arid environments and further refine the technologies, if needed, so that they may be released for farmers’ use.”
Dr S Gopalakrishnan, Microbiologist, Crop Protection & Seed Health, ICRISAT, gave the background and purpose of the meeting. He mentioned that ICRISAT and VBTIPL have already submitted a research proposal ‘Microbe-mediated holistic management of drought-induced charcoal rot/dry root rot caused by Macrophomina phaseolina’ to BIRAC. It proposes to scale up the Streptomyces technology after further evaluation of the strains for other beneficial traits in holistic crop health management. If approved and succeeded, it would be the first product of its kind in India. Both ICRISAT and VBTIPL are also looking for opportunities to extend collaboration in Africa, where the smallholder farmers seldom use expensive inputs, which could be a good proposition to develop and demonstrate microbial products for crop health management.
Dr John Peter gave a brief presentation about VBTIPL and thanked ICRISAT management for accepting this collaboration, emphasizing greater collaboration in Africa. “VBTIPL is doing business in Kenya and Morocco and this would help us for our collaboration in Africa”, said Dr Peter.
Dr Arvind Kumar congratulated both ICRISAT and VBTIPL for this collaboration. “We need to take the basic research conducted at ICRISAT to the farm level and for that, partnership with VBTIPL could play a major role”, he said. He further added, “This collaboration should be long-lasting and beneficial for the organization in India as well as in Africa.”
Dr Rajan Sharma, Cluster Leader, Crop Protection & Seed Health, ICRISAT, thanked the signatories and also the teams responsible for preparing the document at ICRISAT as well as VBTIPL.
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Reported by Dr S Gopalakrishnan, Microbiologist, Crop Protection & Seed Health, ICRISAT.