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 FAO Email conference concluded, Sajhabahadur view
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Posted on 07-09-09 3:05 PM     Reply [Subscribe]
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This is Sajhabahadur from Nepal, again.

Earlier in Message 65, I have discussed the failure of biotechnology in Nepal

mainly due to lack of scholarship for the motivated candidates. However, in

this message, I will present the problems associated while doing

biotechnology in Nepal.

Nepal's population is heavily based on agriculture. Only 20% are employed in

academics and research. The system in Nepal to encourage young Nepalese

biotechnologists who come out from this small segment of (20%) population has

not been taken seriously. It is due to the reason that the allocation of

budget by government for development of science is not satisfactory. As the

result of which, the government is not in a position to hire more research

scholars and offer projects which are signature for contributing to

development of science (in particular biotechnology).

Another associated problem is that shifting from traditional occupation of

farming to the modern technology needs time to adopt. On the other hand,

testing of any product that is suitable in one country doesn't necessarily

mean that it will fit in each and every context. For example, the diversity

of land in Nepal (ranges from 500m above sea level to 5555 m) needs obviously

broad research and versatility of biotechnology services depending on context

of climate.

Unfortunately, towards this end, there has not been any establishment of

industry which can produce simply the chemicals/reagents needed for

development of biotechnology. It means that investment in these sectors in

Nepal is still in a rudimentary state. As a result of which, research in

biotechnology has to pay a high price if one desires to give a start kick.
Posted on 07-09-09 3:12 PM     Reply [Subscribe]
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I am Dr. Sivakumar, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, India.

This is in reference to Message 96 of Sajhabahadur for ever reminding their
thinking on lack of resources.

Nepal has rich biodiversity like any other country and traditionally blessed
with food and fruit crops. It has admirable weather conditions and topography
that will provide opportunities in many dimensions for country's growth. In
agriculture, it has prominent food grain crops like maize, rice, wheat etc
and many fruit crops across its country. The government, institutions and
private functionaries should promote the higher end utility of these
agricultural products. We can see that many developed countries use their
particular advantage even without having any resources for production, simply
excels as trading centres. Like Europe, Nepal has tremendous opportunities
for making fermented foods, drinks and home distillaries for making alcohols,
wines etc. since it has good resources for starch from grain and fruit crops.

Biotechnology is not going to yield products immediately for any developing
countries. Most of the countries doing the start up work in most of the crops
and has not come to the stage of realizing benefits. Even if some progress
has been made, how far it is to their commercial application is a matter of
wait to see. Across the world, few private multinational players contributing
the innovations and their markets are supported by local institutions. Nepal
has a good chance to come to the forefront like Europe in making alcohol
drinks from food and fruit crops and can better promote agriculture,
employment, R&D set up for fermented products. Nepal should follow European
model to promote home made liquiors. Many biotechnological innovations can be
made in microbiological fermentations with less requirement in money
invesment and modern facilities. Hope, people around the world one day prefer
drinks from Nepal.

S. Sivakumar M.Sc, Ph.D
Associate Professor (PBG)
Tamil Nadu Agricultural University,
+91-94435 67327 (Mobile)
email: subbarayansivakumar (at) yahoo.com
Posted on 07-09-09 3:15 PM     Reply [Subscribe]
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My name is Val Giddings. I am a geneticist by training, and I have worked for
25 years on policy and science-based regulation of biotechnology products for
governments, multilateral organizations, NGOs, and industry. In my current
capacity as a consultant, I work for a variety of clients worldwide. I am
presently based in the US but most of my work involves developing countries.

I add my voice to the grateful chorus commending FAO for hosting this
conference. It has elicited an abundance of good and useful comments and
input that should provide welcome guidance as FAO and others consider how
best to bring biotechnology to bear on the challenges of sustainable
agricultural production, particular in developing countries.

I want to comment on the observation Dr. Sivakumar made in post 112 that
"Biotechnology is not going to yield products immediately for any developing
countries." While some may hold this view, participants should be aware that
major benefits have already been delivered to the economies, environments,
and peoples of developing countries by the biotech improved crops introduced
to date. The majority of countries growing biotech crops (legally) to date
are in the developing world (15 of 25) where 12.3 million of the 13.3 million
farmers growing biotech crops live. This has been well documented in a
variety of publications, perhaps most notably by Clive James (see
t.html) and by Graham Brookes and Peter Barfoot (see
http://www.pgeconomics.co.uk/pdf/GM_crop_yield_arial.pdf). Biotech is not
merely promise and potential, but increasingly it is value already delivered
to farmers on the ground in developing countries.

In each case, where farmers are successfully and legally growing biotech
improved crops today, it is because regulatory hurdles have been overcome and
permission has been granted by government authorities to grow and use them.
If any single obstacle to the wider dissemination of these crops has been
under-emphasized in this e-conference, it is that scientifically
unsupportable regulatory burdens continue to block farmer access to crops
that even EU officials have conceded are probably safer than the alternatives
(see http://ec.europa.eu/research/fp5/eag-gmo.html). It would serve FAO and
its mission well to consider measures that could be undertaken to help reduce
such obstacles, for if they cannot be overcome, conquering all the others
described in the postings to this conference will count for nothing.


L. Val Giddings, Ph.D
P.O. Box 8254
Silver Spring,
MD 20907
United States
LVG (at) PrometheusAB.com
Posted on 07-09-09 3:33 PM     Reply [Subscribe]
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1. where did you get the data that 20% of nepali population is involved in academics in research? i can bet that not even 1% is involved in true research. can you show me a single, worth mentioning literature published by a nepali researcher from nepal in the past 5 years. so much for your 20%..waiiyaat.

2. what do you mean by 'testing of product'? mechanical tools? these can be tested without any difficulty i suppose. do you mean GMOs by 'product'? if so, then dream on buddy. GMOs are fireside issues for all nations in the world - mostly in Europe, developed Asia and US. even the commercial farming of BT-Cotton is harshly criticized in many nations including India, given the fact that it is a non-consumable.

3. chemical/reagents? on my recent visit to a university lab in nepal, i saw that most of the chemicals were made in india. since indian currency ain't so strong compared to ours, i think that conducting experiments will not be hindered by the lack of any reagent. indeed, it would be great to have industries set up in our own country but until then, india is a good sub.

4. i do not mean to humiliate the level of nepali education but the quality of biotech education being fed to students in nepali institutions is poorly pathetic. the labs are okay, they have the means to do some okay level research, the theory being taught in the class is not bad but there is no creativity at all. the final year projects of some of my friends were extracting DNA from some wild weed and doing random PCR. now that's a shame because the same students are learning about SNPs and annotation tools in the theory classes.

i agree that govt needs to pour in more money in the research field. however, why do the colleges teach biotech when they know that they can't even bite off an end of the whole scenario? why not wait for 10 more years, accumulate machines, ideas, teachers, and then start something in a determination to produce some good results. it's never gonna happen tho...at least not within next 12-15 yrs.

Posted on 07-10-09 1:43 PM     Reply [Subscribe]
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Reply for 1: Thanks for inputs.. If there is some amendments to be made in writing , I will think about it.

Reply for 2 : Please consult whether this guy is really speaking truth!

I am Dr. Prakash, working as Senior Vegetable Breeder in Namdhari Seeds, one
of the reputed seed companies based in South India.

Since its introduction in 2002, Bt technology in cotton is a huge success in
India. Looking at the speed of adoption of this technology, now India has
become the second largest producer of cotton in the world with production of
315 lakh bales. Approximately four million growers are cultivating Bt cotton
in an area of 225 lakh acres in 2008 from a mere 72,000 acres in 2002, the
year of introduction of this technology. [1 lakh = 100,000...Moderator].
Today, nearly 23 private seed companies are actively engaged in using
Bollgard I and II events of Monsanto in cotton alone. Some of the public
institutes are also engaged in tranferring this technology to the local
cultivars of cotton to make sure this technology would be affordable to the
poor farmers of India as well.

In addition to cotton, there are over a dozen transgenic crops including
eggplant, okra, cabbage, cauliflower, corn and rice that are in the process
of getting regulatory approval from the government for commercial
cultivation. Looking into the present scenario, next couple of years would
certainly be the technological era that Indian growers can look for the
beneficial traits developed through biotechnology.

Dr. Prakash
Senior Vegetable Breeder
Namdhari Seeds
Bidadi - 562 109
dr.prakash (at) namdhariseeds.com

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