ICRISAT initiates pacts for food processing research

Written by Commodities Bureau | Hyderabad, Nov 20 | Updated: Nov 22 2008, 05:17am hrs
International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has initiated the functioning of the NutriPlus Knowledge Center in the Agri-Science Park (ASP) at ICRISAT with the signing of an MoU with Nandan Biomatrix apart from two prospective agreements. To recall, ICRISAT and Crop and Food Research, a Crown Research Institute of New Zealand, had signed an MoU in Lincoln, New Zealand during January, for developing NutriPlus.

According to William Dar, director general, through this MoU, Nandan Biomatrix Ltd., which had established R&D facilities in the Agri-Science Park will be handing their equipment over to NutriPlus Knowledge Center. Nandan Biomatrix will become a member of NutriPlus and continue to operate as a NutriPlus partner under ASP.

Further, two more MoUs proposed are with GreenPort Corporation and Yes Bank Ltd. According to the proposed MoU with GreenPort Corporation, ICRISAT will provide technical backstopping for the integrated agro food parks and the agri-business parks that GreenPort plans to establish. GreenPort Corporation will contribute Rs 2 crore for the NutriPlus center and will become a core member of NutriPlus.

As per the second proposed agreement, Yes Bank will become the knowledge partner of Nutriplus. They plan to establish their agri-business consulting division at NutriPlus.

Speaking after signing the MoU, Dar said that the agreements further strengthen the institutes partnerships with the private sector. Through NutriPlus, we want to strengthen enterprise in the food processing industry, which will in turn link with the poor farmers of the dryland to improve their livelihoods, he said.

According to Barry Shapiro, MD, ASP, the NutriPlus center will blend the commercial vigor of the private sector with the scientific and technical expertise of ICRISAT to deliver projects and products that will strengthen the hands of the poor farmers.

The NutriPlus Knowledge Center received the first tranche of funding from the Andhra Pradesh government in early 2008. NutriPlus will be a platform for R&D to develop new food products and innovation in food processing with focus on cereals, legumes, fruits and vegetables, and medicinal and aromatic plants. It will be developed as a public-private partnership model and backstop food processing related research requirements for ICRISAT and partners.

Some of the objectives of NutriPlus include: Make available technologies ready for commercialization and transfer; provide infrastructure and platform for innovation and research for the private sector; take up collaborative and contract research; align strategically with food research Institutions (in India and abroad); provide knowledge support to the private sector; undertake training and capacity building programs for partners; and offer food safety testing and services.

It is planned that the NutriPlus Knowledge Center will be developed over a period of five years with a total outlay of approximately $5.25 million. It will also collaborate with several central and state government organizations, IITs and agricultural research universities in India.