BISWANATH CHARIALI, Jan 30 - With a view to promoting biotechnology in the north-eastern States of India, the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India started the concept of Biotech Hub in the year 2010. Biswanath College of Agriculture is one of the several institutes that was sanctioned in the first phase in 2010-11 with an objective of capacity building among the students, teachers, entrepreneurs and other stakeholders in their own as well as other institutions and organisations of the nearby areas.
Led by Dr MK Sharma as coordinator, the Biotech Hub during the last around seven years of activities, has been able to earn a distinction and good reputation in the North Bank Plain Zone of Assam, in particular. The unique feature of activities of the Biotech Hub is in its practical spirit of inculcating the application of biotechnology in the various spheres of society from academics to entrepreneurs and farmers. In view of the projection that the current century would be the century of biotechnology, the concept of functioning of the biotech hubs has been an example of difference which is evident from its activities spread even in interior schools of Sonitpur and Biswanath districts to the advanced-level research infrastructures created in their laboratories which is open to all for working. The wide range of activities of the hub ranged from motivation programme for school students to advanced training imparted in the area of molecular biology and biotechnological tools and techniques. School children visiting the Biotech Hub has become a regular feature. Several nearby degree colleges of the area have also been benefited by the practical training imparted to their students in the Biotech Hub. Another unique feature of the hub is to conduct outreach programmes in the schools of interior places so that students who are unable to come over to the hub can also be benefited. Not only that, batches of school and college teachers have also been regularly trained in the areas of advanced biology and biotechnology.
The infrastructural facilities created for the biotech hub have made it a unique centre for dissemination and exchange of biotechnological knowledge and skills to the stakeholders of the region. The hub has put all its efforts towards fulfilling the objective of DBT for establishing the biotech hubs. The activities of the biotech hub has considerably augmented the interactions and collaborations amongst different educational institutions in the region.
From the time of inception of the Institutional Biotech hub, BN College of Agriculture, the hub has been providing full support to the regular practical courses of agricultural biotechnology, genetics, plant breeding and seed technology. This Biotech Hub is also providing assistance to a number of PG students of different discipline of BN College of Agriculture with the laboratory facility and equipment. Several hands on training programmes, outreach and awareness programmes were carried out among students/teachers of various nearby institutions. The hands on training imparted to the young entrepreneurs have measurably impacted in adopting several biofertiliser/ mushroom production units in the locality. The trainings organised by the Biotech Hub has benefited about 400 college and school teachers/ students in terms of capacity building of Biology teaching and learning. This has increased the level of interaction and collaboration amongst other institutes leading to the development of this Biotech Hub as a common resource centre.
Apart from the regular training programmes several students of the nearby institutions used the Biotech Hub facilities to undertake science project works. A measurable achievement in this regard can be cited. A group of two school students worked on �Effect on light, water and elevated carbon dioxide on seedling growth of Maize and French Bean� under the guidance of the biotech hub have owned Best Project award from Assam and represented Assam in position in the 22nd National Science Congress held at Mumbai during 3-6 January, 2015. The district level National Children Science Congress was organised by Biotech Hub, BN College of Agriculture at the host institutions where a number of 160 child scientists from all over the districts participated and presented their projects.
With constant support and guidance of this Biotech Hub, Sootea Higher Secondary School has received grant for establishment and smooth conduction of activities of Biotech laboratories of secondary schools (BLISS) under Department of Biotechnology.
Keeping all these activities on, the centre has also not drifted from undertaking advanced level research in biotechnology. It is also known that a number of research projects are also being undertaken by the Hub which includes molecular mapping of important genes in germplasms, molecular genetic diversity analysis, micro propagation etc. Recently, the hub also earned an ambitious project from the Ministry of AYUSH for establishing a gene bank for medicinal plant and genetic resources of North East India.
With all these activities, the biotech hub of Biswanath College of Agriculture has been able to move the concept of Biotechnology from the general notion of being a very tough and not to reach easily subject to a subject of common man�s interest, which is the actual need of the hour. As recognition to the activities of the Hub, DBT has recently decided to upgrade the Biotech Hub into an advanced level Biotech Hub from now onwards. Moving from the age old traditional society into a science based advanced society to keep pace with the global village concept this type of activities could be a path finder building a knowledge society in its true spirit.