New Delhi, 23 August, 2011
The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) signed Memorandum of Agreement for conservation of plant genetic resources in the National Permafrost Repository at Chang-La, Leh, Ladakh(J&K). The Memorandum was signed by Dr S Ayyappan, Secretary, DARE and Director General, ICAR and Dr V K Saraswat, Scientific Advisor to Raksha Mantri and Secretary, Department of Defence Research and Development. Established by DRDO, the high-tech facility ensures storage of the elite germplasm at -4 to -20 degree Celsius temperature with 10-20% moisture. Apart from India, only Norway (Svalbard) has the permafrost storage facility in the world.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr Ayyappan emphasized that germplasm conservation is one of the major activities of ICAR which ensures a safety net for current and future food security in an era of global warming and climate change. He hoped that further collaboration between and ICAR and DRDO in terms of sharing of infrastructural facilities, scientific strength and databases will give an impetus to conservation of germplasm of horticultural and other crops grown in high altitude region. Dr Ayyappan highlighted the important role of National Gene Bank at National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR) in this direction and also emphasized that ICAR scientists may provide the expertise to DRDO and vice-versa by involving in various committees on policy and research related to agriculture.
In his opening remarks, Dr Saraswat stated that this facility will help to check the erosion of important germplasm by preserving them at naturally available low temperature for food and health security not only for our troops deployed in high altitude conditions but also for the citizens of this country. He also mentioned that there is ample scope of collaboration of laboratories of life sciences of DRDO and ICAR.
Dr W Selvamurthy, Distinguished Scientist and Chief Controller, Research and Development, DRDO, also appreciated the efforts of ICAR in providing food security in India. He emphasized that ICAR and DRDO can develop more strong collaboration in research on agriculture using new tools such as biotechnology and nano-technology.
During the meeting, Dr KC Bansal, Director, NBPGR, New Delhi and Dr RB Srivastava, Director, Defence Institute for High Altitude Research (DIHAR), Leh, made the presentations highlighting the significant achievements of their respective institutes and the significance of the permafrost facility at Chang-La for conservation of "Safety Duplicates" of unique accessions of PGR.
(Source-NAIP Sub-Project of Mass Media Mobilization, DKMA with inputs from NBPGR)