Commercialization of plant tissue culture technology


Kathmandu | Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Few months back I got a chance to attend a youth forum which is being organized once in a month by the biotechnology graduates of Nepal. And, it has been nearly a year or more since this talk program has been conducted continuously. And, it has been a year of glorious journey and we feel glad to share this to all of you. The essence of the program is to make people aware about the necessity and importance of biotechnology in Nepal. And, this time the topic of this talk program (Team Up and Talk Biotechnology) has been “Commercialization of plant tissue culture technology”. It has been long since I wrote this blog on the very program, but somehow I have not been able to manage to post it. But, now, I am posting it here. Hope you will enjoy the post.

There are just few handfuls of people, group, organization or institute that dares to escalate and stand in the time of adversity, and “Team Up and Talk About Biotechnology” is one such youth forums. “Team Up and Talk About Biotechnology” has ventured in this noble work of garnering the current molecular biologists of Nepal since January 2012, and since then has been engaged actively in such discussion programs pertaining to the ongoing research works in Nepal and their achievements so far.

In the due process, this time, the very group has just finished its 10th. Talk-episode successfully organized in Martin Chautari on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 among the enthusiastic biotech graduates and scientists from different renowned organizations such as Kathmandu University, SAAN International, White House International Sanpo International Corporation, Japan, and Department of Plant Resource under Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation, Nepal. The talk program was entitled: “Commercialization of plant tissue culture technology”.

The chief guests of the program was Mr. Hari Krishna Saiju (plant tissue culturist) and Mrs. Amira Dali (International Business Management officer associated with Sanpo International Corporation, Japan) – one of the few renowned figures in Nepal who have devoted their entire life contributing to the Nepali society with the available plant resources and making it one of the sustainable business through research work.

The talk show was opened by Mr. Saiju – one of the leading plant tissue culturists of Nepal who had invented and introduced “Sand Rooting Technology” in plant in Nepal – one of the groundbreaking technologies in the field of plant science that has made the world owe on that particular achievement. The technology made the world jaw-dropped because the technology made plant grow their roots in sand which didn’t contain any form of growth hormones such as auxin or delicate environmental conditions necessary for generating root – it rather contained just clean moist sand from Godawari river.

The very technique was universally accepted and got publication in various international journals on plant research after the technique was approved by researchers from US and Japan – including Professor Murasakami from Okinawa University, Japan who once visited Nepal during 1970-1980 and took the sand sample from Godawari to investigate possible nutritive materials that was thought might be inducing rooting in plant. However, researchers didn’t find anything other than just moist sand which has contributed so magnificently – and that was really hard to believe and accept. However, unfortunately, researchers in Nepal failed to patent the technique due to fund crunch – required for processing patenting work in US. And, later, the technique was made available free of cost for the society – a paragon of philanthropic work by Nepali scientists.

The gist of the talk program reiterated on the fact that Nepal is rich in natural resources and there is a tremendous scope if research works on plant resources is to be taken seriously, especially on tea, potato, wheat, maize, banana and some other cash crops. Because of the lack of proper business-oriented tissue culture labs in Nepal and the reluctance of Nepal government towards research work, current cash crops are on the verge of aging and it needs serious attention to rejuvenate it.

Yes, of course, there are some stymies that might be trying to stumble work, but it is not impossible! While Nepal is under the transition phase which seems unceasing for the time being with surmounting load-shedding hours in addition, it is obvious that it might be somewhat disheartening to those who are seriously giving it a thought. But, the current growing demand for tissue-cultured tea plants in Nepal is so overwhelming that once it is initiated it will surpass all those stymies.

The handful of tissue culture labs in Nepal has just not been able to cope with the growing demand of tissue-cultured banana plants, virus-free potato and few ornamental plants which are also being exported elsewhere in the world. Mrs. Dali reiterated on the fact that, Nepal is still importing potatoes from Bhutan and India, but surprisingly only the Nepal’s homegrown potatoes are the only that are virus free – which has been developed by the researchers in Nepal. And, unfortunately, it will taint the current virus-free potatoes of Nepal in future. Additionally, current research on wheat has shown that Nepal’s wheat is only free of leaf-rust disease in South Asian region.

Finally, the talk show ended successfully with a hope that Nepal still have tremendous potential and ample of research fields to develop on cash-crops and ornamental plants that can be turned into a sustainable business with a R&D in the background for continuous upbringing of aging Nepal crops and plants.

DISCUSSION SESSION

Q. How sustainable is the area of plant tissue culture in Nepal?

We have to accept the fact that it will not be garnering money overnight, but since cultured plants have huge demand when it comes especially in tea and banana market, it is one of the most lucrative businesses in Nepal. But, you have to hold your heart for at least few years before it starts to bear fruits.


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