A parliamentary committee has recommended the Department of Biotechnology to start its research and development activities for developing drought-resistant varieties of sugarcane.
The committee’s report on demands for grants of the Department of Biotechnology said it felt that drought-resistant varieties of sugarcane, if made available, will ease out the problems faced by sugarcane growers due to lack of irrigation facilities and dependence on the vagaries of monsoon.
The committee, therefore, recommends the department to also start its research and development activities in the direction of developing drought-tolerant varieties of sugarcane in the country, the report said.
“The Committee also notes that the department has been supporting a research and development proposal for development of rust resistant variety and a proposal has also been supported,” it said.
The report said the Sugarcane Breeding Institute (SCBI), Coimbatore has already developed drought-tolerant transgenic sugarcane for regulatory approvals for biosafety assessment.
On the work done by the Department of Biotechnology in the field of aquaculture and marine biotechnology, the parliamentary panel said “health, feed and nutrition” were major challenges in the marine and aquaculture sector.
“The Committee, therefore, recommends the Department (of biotechnology) to prepare a roadmap for developing requisite and efficient diagnostics and take prophylactic measures to address these issues,” the panel said.
It also expressed concern that anaemia, stunting, malnutrition and micronutrient malnutrition cases were widespread in the country and the efforts undertaken by the biotechnology department in the form of development of iron fortified rice was “nothing less than a drop in the ocean”.
The Committee said it was of the firm view that the department had to come up with “out-of-the-box and innovative biotechnological solutions” to these problems.