Nano Mission For Agriculture Promises Quality Food to us and Reduced Cost to Farmers

Coimbatore is fast emerging as the nano hub of India with the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) having prepared the draft for the nano mission for agriculture to help the country ensure food security. The project, which has an ambitious primary outlay of Rs 1,000 crore, promises to provide quality food to the consumer and help the farmer reduce the harvest costs.

The nano mission could also help stem the spiraling inflation. TNAU nanotechnology department head K.S. Subramanian said an array of nano gadgets are in the pipeline to help the common man. These include the nano sensors that the department has been developing. The sensors will alert farmers about diseases that are about to hit his crop. The farmer can take quick measures based on such alerts and prevent his crop from being destroyed. The consumer, on his part, can use nano food packaging to store a bottle of sugarcane juice or banana chips for almost 60 days.

“As part of the nano mission, more than 120 scientists will arrive in Coimbatore after April 2012 to help develop nano gadgets and scientific farming methods. We aim to solve all sorts of farm problems affecting food security and help the farmer and the consumer,” said Subramanian.

The International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines, the Cornell Institute of USA and the University of South Australia are collaborating with TNAU on various nano projects, Subramanian said. “At present, we are working on nano products that can be used to decontaminate polluted soil and water,” he said.

‘Mission aims to check crop disease’

K.S. Subramanian, professor and head of department of nano technology, Tamil Nadu Agriculture University (TNAU), had coined the term ‘nano agriculture’.

What is nanotechnology?

Nanotechnology is an emerging field of science, capable of resolving problems that are impossible to tackle with engineering and biological sciences.

Nano is Greek for dwarf. Nanoscience and technology involve studying and working with matter on an ultra-small scale that allow us to work, manipulate and create tools, materials and structures at the molecular level.

One nanometre is one-millionth of a millimeter. A single human hair is around 80,000 nanometres in width. If the entire Indian population of 1.04 billion is squeezed to a one-metre length, each Indian is considered a nano particle.

How can nanotechnology be used in agriculture?

Despite nanotechnology serving as a prime tool to develop several products in material science, medicine and defence, we have just begun to scratch the surface in agriculture.

Nanotechnology application in agriculture is in the nascent stage and, over the next few years, is expected to grow exponentially.

TNAU has been the early bird in utlising nanotechnology in agriculture. We will develop nano-scale devices to detect and treat diseases in crops long before the symptoms are visually manifested.

We will develop nano herbicides that would release chemicals to protect the plant when pests start infecting them.

What is the global scenario in nanotechnology?

The exponential growth in global investment in nanotechnology research coincides with the number of patents relating to nano products. Recent statistics suggest that 88 per cent of the patents were generated from just seven countries — the US, China, Germany, France, South Korea, Switzerland and Japan.

India’s investment is far from the global club of nanotechnology. In 2008, both public and private sectors worldwide had invested about $20 billion. Market forecasts indicate $1,880 billion investments in nanotechnology-related sales across all sectors by 2015.

The government of India has decided to spend Rs 1,000 crore on the nano science and technology mission.

How much is India going to gain from the nano mission?

Reducing farming costs and helping the consumer to get good quality products are the major goals of the nano mission. Through the mission, a variety of educational programmes, research and development programmes will be introduced. Centres of excellence will be established, institution-industry linked projects through increased public-private partnerships will be inked.

The nano mission also plans to encourage the private sector to invest in and leverage this sunrise technology.

Applications of nanomaterials in our lives

* Nanomaterials are being used as a component in microprocessors and circuits as they have better thermal conductivity are more durable

* Aerogels are used for insulation purposes due to their ability to support heave loads while being lightweight themselve.

* Cutting tools are made of nanocrystalline materials

* Nanocrystalline materials synthesised by sol-gel are used as a component in high energy-density (storage capacity) batteries.

* Devices like MRI machines, quieter submarines, automobile alternators, land-based power generators use high power batteries that use nanomaterials as a vital component

* Nanomaterials are used in smoke detectors, ice detectors on aircraft wings, automobile engine performance sensors

* Nanomaterials are used in the manufacture of aircrafts and spacecrafts as they increase the aircraft’s fatigue life by 200%

* Nanomaterials are also used to make satellites for both defence and civil purposes.

* Medicine owes much to nanomaterials. It uses these materials for drug delivery, as skin for prosthetics and various other functions

* Metal nanocrystals are used in car bumpers for the strength they offer

* Sunscreen uses nanoparticles for their ability to absorb ultra-violet rays

Posted on February 2, 2012, in Business, Food and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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