The Indo-Swiss Collaboration in Biotechnology (ICSB) on Friday signed a biofertiliser technology licensing agreement with two corporates — Nagarjuna Fertilisers, Hyderabad, and Pest Control India (PCI), Bangalore.

Ulrich Lutz, Head-Climate Change, Switzerland Embassy, who signed the pacts, said this NextGen biofertiliser technology was a milestone in technology transfer.

Both the companies will lead the process of commercialisation of this ‘NextGen technology’ not only for wheat, rice and pulses, but other crops too. The technology has been give on non-exclusive basis to these companies.

“It will take about two years to commercialise the product. We need to conduct more field trials to bring out a quality product till the point of delivery,” said Banibrata Pandey, Head-Emerging Technology, Nagarjuna Fertilisers.

The technology is the outcome of 10 years of efforts put in by Indian and Swiss scientists and researchers, including GB Pant University, IIT Delhi, Punjab Agricultural University and the Bose Institute, among others. It combines fungi and two plant growth bacteria, which provide better nutrient absorption to plants than chemical fertilisers, resulting in better productivity and crop quality as well as richer soil, said Alok Adholeya of The Energy Research Institute, which was part of the research team.

“The technology has been tested and validated in about 90 field trials on wheat, rice and black gram in the Indo-Gangetic plains of India,” said S.R Rao, Advisor, Department of Biotechnology.

He said use of biotech fertiliser showed up to 40 per cent yield improvement and could reduce fertiliser use by at least 45-50 per cent.

M.K Bhan, Secretary, Department of Biotechnology, said the product was good for social development but could be bad for business. “Corporates should look at it as part of their CSR rather than as a commercial success. The idea should be to ensure that there is 20 per cent biofertiliser coverage in India in 10 years.” He called for greater investments in large-scale field trials for validation purposes.

aditi.n@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on November 2, 2012)
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