Interview

APSCS&T offers innovative solutions for agriculture sector problems

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C.D Mungyak

The Arunachal Pradesh State Council for Science & Technology has been able to apply science and technology towards improving quality of life of people in the state. It has been successful in implementing various scientific and technology projects in the state, says C.D Mungyak, Director, Department of Science and Technology, Arunachal Pradesh in this interview with Elets News Network. He also talks about the role of science and technology in technological innovations for the agriculture and horticulture sector.

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Give us an overview of the Department of Science & Technology, Government of Arunachal Pradesh.

The Government of Arunachal Pradesh created the Department of Science & Technology in the year 1998 to cater to the needs of science and technological requirement of the state. The Department also advises the government on policies and measures necessary to promote utilisation of science and technology towards achieving techno-economic development in the state.

At present, the department is functioning through the Arunachal Pradesh State Council for Science & Technology (APSCS&T) and the State Remote Sensing Application Centre (SRSAC).

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The State Council for Science & Technology was created in the year 1992 under the state’s Education Department. In the year 1998, after creation of the Department of Science & Technology, the Council was brought under the fold of the Department of Science & Technology. The State Council for Science & Technology has been functioning with the prime objectives of playing a catalytic role in application of science and technology for societal development, popularisation and communication of science and technology for proper utilisation of natural resources, development of human skills in rural areas, documentation of IKS and its development through technological intervention and inculcating scientific temperament among the people of the state.

The State Council for Science & Technology is putting maximum efforts to accelerate the pace of formulation and implementation of projects and programmes through utilising the available expertise and implementing projects in different areas in association with Government Departments, Research Institution, Educational Institutions and Non-Governmental Organisations.

The Council is headed by the Director cum Member Secretary, who is also the Ex-Officio Director to the Government, Department of Science & Technology. The Council has specialised and dedicated team of young scientists. The council acts as the nodal agency for Department of Science and Technology, Department of Biotechnology, Government of India in the State for implementation of its projects and programmes.

Tell us about the different centres for the Department of Science and Technology.

The State Remote Sensing Application Centre (SRSAC) was established in the year 1996 under the aegis of State Council for Science & Technology. Since the inception, the centre has been serving the state as an apex body for various activities related to Remote Sensing and GIS (Geographical Information System) applications in the state. The main objective of SRSAC is to utilise the advanced state-of-art Remote Sensing and GIS technologies for inventory, mapping and monitoring of natural resources and planning for their sustainable development and also for effective rural and urban developmental planning in the state and taking up research/projects addressing various environmental problems and hazards in the state.

Taking a step forward for popularising science and technology in the state, the Council has set up Arunachal Pradesh Science Centre at Itanagar during 2005-06 sponsored by National Council of Science Museums, Department of Culture, Govt. of India, Kolkata. The centre has the state-of-the art cutting edge technologies as live exhibits enabling the students and general public to understand about the technologies and their applications. The science centre is providing an experiment based learning ambience to inculcate a spirit of inquiry, foster creative talent and scientific temper in the community as a whole.

It is characterised by its two pronged channel of communication-exhibits and activities. While the exhibits, both indoor and outdoor, are most interactive, the demonstrations and training programmes are also fully participatory and has been helping children and the adults alike to learn the basics of science through fun and enjoyment.

APSCS&T has also set up an Innovation Hub at Science Centre, IG, Park, Itanagar. The project was funded by National Council of Science Museum, Ministry of Culture, Government of India. The various facilities set up under the Innovation Hub are Discovery Hall, Resource Centre/Hall of Fame, Idea Lab, Design Studio, Robotics/Electronics Lab, Tod FodJod (Break and Remake), Kabad se Jugad (Make useful product from waste material) and Idea Box. The Innovation Hub facilities shall facilitate as a platform for all section of society including grassroot innovators to engage in innovative and creative activities. The hub will promote creative thinking and problem solving abilities through hands on activities and experiments.

Biotechnology has been added as one of the new division in APSCS&T in the year 2017 to cater the need of biotechnological interventions in conservation and sustainable utilisation of these bioresources towards improving the socio- economic status of people in the state.

Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India in March, 2018 has sanctioned the project submitted by APSCS&T for “Establishment of Centre for Bioresources and Sustainable Development in Arunachal Pradesh as a Centre of Excellence”. This DBT-APSCS&T Centre being established at Kiminis aimed at developing the bioresources, emphasising sustainable utilisation, conservation of the resources, safeguarding of IPR issues of the indigenous communities and improvement of the socio-economic status of the people through scientific intervention using biotechnological techniques. The centre will facilitate for carrying out research and developmental activities in the field of biotechnology and catalyse the activities for sustainable development of the bioresources of the state as well as encourage entrepreneurship development.

What are the major achievements of your department in recent years?

APSCS&T has been able to apply science and technology towards improving quality of life of people in the state. It has been successful in implementing various scientific and technology projects in the state. Over the recent years the major achievements of the department are the following;

  • Establishment of “Centre of Excellence for Bioresources and Sustainable Development at Kimin, Arunachal Pradesh” for sustainable utilisation of bioresources and its conservation. The project is being funded by Department of Biotechnology, Govt. of India.
  • Implementation of DST, Govt. of India funded project “Establishment of Rural Technology Demonstration Centre” at Kimin, Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Setting up of Patent Information Centre in the council to work towards protection and safeguard of the Intellectual Property Rights related issues and indigenous knowledge and scientific innovations.
  • Replication and adoption of suitable technologies viz. Watermill, micro hydel for harnessing and utilisation of the renewable energy sources for development in rural areas through science and technological intervention.
  • Setting up of Innovation Hub cum Space Education Centre at Science Centre, I.G.Park, Itanagar in 2018.
  • Successful conduct of various science popularisation program like State Children Science Congress, Nature Camps, Teachers training programmes and workshops, National Science Day and National Mathematics Day to name a few.
  • Strengthening and skill development of scientific and technical staffs of the council.
  • APSCS&T is a Partner Organisation in the Gandhi Global Solar Yatra 2019. This is a global event initiated IIT Bombay under its SoULS initiative.

How is the department ensuring promotion of application of science & technology for proper utilisation of natural resources, mapping, documentation and development of Indigenous Knowledge System (IKS), replication of technologies and popularisation and communication of science & technology?

APSCS&T plays a major role towards sustainable utilisation of the bio-resources and its conservation. The council has developed and worked in many projects that have goals and objectives of proper utilisation of natural resources which includes identification of medicinal plants and understanding its properties, documentation and value addition of important wild edible plants of the state.

One of the major projects funded by the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India works towards development of ‘Centre of Excellence for Bioresources and Sustainable Development’ in Kimin, Arunachal Pradesh. The objective of the centre is to work towards sustainable utilisation of bioresources of the state and its conservation through the intervention of biotechnology.

The Council also has IPR cell which works towards mapping, documentation and protection of Indigenous and Traditional Knowledge. Various technologies have been successfully replicated and implemented in various parts of the districts of the state and many projects on replication of technologies like watermill, geothermal, and micro hydel have been successfully implemented by the council. The objectives of the projects are towards improving quality of life of people in the state.

One of the major projects funded by Department of Science and Technology, Government of India has been ‘Establishment of Rural Technology Demonstration Centre’ to work towards replicating, demonstrating various important agro-techniques like Mushroom cultivation, Medicinal and aromatic plants cultivation, production of bio fertilizers and vermi composts, oil distillation unit, value additions to fruits amongst other techniques by providing training to local populace for their skill development and sustainable improvement of their economic condition.

Science popularisation and communication is one of the major objectives of the council to disseminate the knowledge of the science to the local populations and students of the state. The council has been working since 1995 towards popularisation and communication of the science amongst the masses in a large way.

Various training programmes, workshops have been conducted for increasing the awareness amongst the students and local population. The council is responsible for implementation, organising of the National Children’s Science Congress (NCSC), the flagship programme of Department of Science & Technology, Government of India in the state.

In this direction, the State level Children Science Congress programme is being organised annually since the last 24 years. The congress provides platform to both school and non school going children to showcase their innovations. The top 10 students are provided opportunity to participate in national level.

Other programmes include Sci-connect by Vigyan Prasar, Department of Science and Technology, Government of India which works towards arising interest of students towards science. Arunachal Pradesh Science Centre, I.G Park, Itanagar is a premier institute committed towards popularisation and communication of science amongst the students and the general populace of the state.

We are also planning to hold an S & T Conclave of Himalayan States during October-November 2019. During this conclave, we expect to see a congregation of large number of eminent scientist and technologist from various Educational and Research Institutions as well as from Industries.

What’s your opinion on the importance of technological innovations for the agriculture and horticulture sector?

Science and technology provides scientific innovative solutions to the problems in the agriculture and horticulture sectors. From improving agricultural tools to providing bio-fertillizer, to finding solution for the diseases and developing post harvest technologies science and technology provides innovative solutions for increasing the productivity of the horticulture and agricultural crops. The science and technology have various applications and plays a major role in increasing the productivity of the agriculture and horticulture. The agriculture and horticulture are both research oriented and hence science and technology, biotechnology has a very important role in the given sectors.

The few applications amongst the others are the following

  1. Providing improved agriculture tools in accordance to the need of the farmers and terrain.
  2. Protection of crops against diseases and pests.
  3. Designing the best methods of crop storage.
  4. Helping in predicting the climate conducive for agriculture practice.
  5. Improving yield variety through resistant variety crops.
  6. Post harvest technologies in protecting the crop and the yield.
  7. Providing value addition to the crops and fruits for improving the economic sustainability of the farmers.
  8. Climate Resilient Agriculture is new techniques using artificial intelligence to yield climate adaptable seeds and productivity.

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