Focus: GS-III Science and Technology
Why in news?
Minister for Science & Technology, Health & Family Welfare and Earth Sciences and Minister of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare and Rural Development & Panchayati Raj released ‘Guidelines for Evaluation of Nano-based Agri-input and food products in India’.
- The Guidelines have been prepared jointly by Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Ministry of Science and Technology, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare (M/o A&FW) and Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare through concerted Inter-Ministerial efforts coordinated by DBT.
- Nanobiotechnology has the potential to improve agricultural systems through increase in plant productivity and better crop protection for meeting the changing needs and requirement of providing food to the growing population.
- These guidelines are aimed at assisting in making policy decisions by providing information on the existing regulations for nano-based products in agriculture and food and also to ensure quality, safety and efficacy of the targeted products.
- These ‘Guidelines’ would help policy makers and regulators to frame effective provisions for future novel nano-based products in the agri-input and food sectors of India.
- They will also encourage the Indian innovators and industries to develop and commercialize new nano-based formulations and products in these sectors.
How nanotechnology can aid in Agriculture?
Nanotechnology is a rapidly evolving field with the potential to take forward the agriculture and food industry with new tools which promise to increase food production in a sustainable manner and to protect crops from pests.
- Nanocapsules can enable effective penetration of herbicides, chemical fertilizers, and genes into the targeted part of the plant, ensuring a slow and constant release of the necessary substance to the plants with minimised environmental pollution.
- Nanosensors and delivery systems can allow for precision farming through the efficient use of natural resources like water, nutrients, chemicals etc., and also detect the plant viruses and soil nutrient levels.
- Nano-barcodes and nano-processing could also be used to monitor the quality of agriculture produce.
- Nanoemulsions can be used to reduce bacteria on produce.
- Hybrid polymers can be used in packaging and to reduce spoilage of produce.
- Nanofertilizers, which are modified fertilizers synthesized by chemical, physical, or biological methods using nanotechnology to improve their attributes and composition – can be used to enhance the productivity of crops.