Betting big on bio-technology
The Country's bio-technology sector is poised to grow into a $10-billion industry by 2010, Vice President Dr Mohammad Hamid Ansari said while inaugurating the fifth edition of the global bio-business forum—Bio-Asia 2008 here on Thursday. The industry grew at 40 per cent during the last five years and the turnover during 2005-06 was over US $1.5 billion.
He pointed out that India was one of the very few developing countries which recognised the importance of bio-technology as an important instrument for advancing agricultural and industrial growth way back in the early 1980s. A separate department of bio-technology was set up in 1986 to give an impetus to the development of this sector.
“Bio-technology is important because it lies at the intersection of two areas that are critical to our economy - agriculture and the knowledge industry. The growth rate in the agriculture sector has been a mere 2.7 per cent in the last financial year. Yet, more than half of the population directly depends on this sector. Bio-technology is a key tool in improving productivity of agriculture and ensuring a higher growth rate,” the vice president noted.
Dr Ansari felt that developing biotechnology was the best means to leverage the immense biodiversity of India. “Our subcontinent occupies only 2.4 per cent of the total global surface area but has 7.6 per cent of the total mammal species, 12.6 per cent of bird species, 11.7 per cent of fish varieties and 6 per cent of total flowering plants that are present in the world,” he said.
He said that the vision of the government was to use powerful tools of bio-technology to help convert the country's diverse biological resources to useful products and processes that are accessible to its masses for economic development and employment generation.