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Thiruvananthapuram, Oct. 14

KERALA, which is endowed with rich bio-diversity and associated knowledge system and expert manpower, offers excellent opportunity for the growth of biotech industries, according to Dr P. Pushpangadan, Director, National Botanical Research Institute, Lucknow.

But, it is a paradox that the State could not make any dent in this sector so far, he says in a paper presented at a seminar on `Role of media in promoting new research in biotechnology' here on Friday.

The three most powerful sectors that drive the world trade and economic activities in the 21st century are biotechnology, information technology and herbal technology. And Kerala offers the best opportunity to excel in all these areas.

Bio-pharmaceuticals, which include diagnostics, vaccines and recombinant therapeutic proteins, is one of the most potential areas where the State can look forward to attracting industrial ventures. The market for diagnostic devices in the country is expected to grow at 15 to 20 per cent a year and Kerala can generate a turnover of about $300 million a year from this sector, says Dr Pushpangadan.

The State, being the producer of many cash crops such as coconut, arecanut, pepper, ginger, cardamom and rubber, also has good scope in the area of agricultural biotechnology. Much of these agri-products are now sold either as such or as partially processed items. These can be developed into fully processed products, which will ensure much higher returns for the State. There is also good scope for marine biotechnology-based industries in the State what with its rich marine and fresh water resources.

Herbal technology is another sector in which the State, with its rich bio-diversity, stands to gain much in the changing global scenario of a return to nature in matters such as food, medicine, cosmetics and perfumery. The average global turnover in this sector is estimated to be in the region of $ 7 trillion and Kerala can aspire a leadership in herbal-based industries with an annual turnover of $ 50 billion.

Dr Pushpangadan feels that the State can also excel in the area of bio-informatics though it is lagging behind in information technology behind many other places in the country. According to the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), the global bio-informatics industry is expected to log a turnover of $60 billion in the current year and Kerala can claim a good share of the emerging market in this sector.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated October 15, 2005)
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