India’s premier nuclear research institution, the state-run Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) in Mumbai, has been carrying out development of crop seed varieties using gamma radiation, and 49 such seed varieties developed have been notified for cultivation so far, the government has announced.
Responding to a question in the Upper House of the Indian Parliament, the Atomic Energy Minister Jitendra Singh further said that nuclear technologies have also been developed in the country for extending the shelf-life of agricultural products.
“The BARC has been carrying out development of seed varieties using gamma radiation. So far, 49 seed varieties developed have been notified for cultivation. Technologies have also been developed for shelf-life extension of agricultural products”, Singh said.
“BARC has been formulating and carrying out Research and Development (R&D) projects to develop technologies, processes and radiopharmaceuticals for health services and agriculture programmes,” he added.
The Minister also told Parliament that the government provides all impetus to promote the use of nuclear energy in health services and agricultural programmes aimed at indigenous development, import substitution and providing cost-effective medical treatment.
“The Bhabha Atomic Research Centre is involved in the development, pre-clinical evaluation and obtaining the radiopharmaceuticals committee’s approval for human use for a number of diagnostic and therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals adaptable to the existing and foreseeable demands,” Singh said.
He informed the Upper House that technologies for large-scale production of these radiopharmaceuticals are transferred to the government’s Board of Radiation and Isotope Technology (BRIT).
“BRIT is producing and supplying radiopharmaceutical products across the country and serving a large number of hospitals by supplying these products at their doorsteps. BRIT is also supporting a large number of irradiators by supplying Cobalt-60 pencils”, Singh said.
“These irradiators are used for food grain preservation and sterilisation of medical products”, he added.
Nuclear Asia reported earlier this month how Bangladesh has collaborated with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to develop new varieties of cotton that are more productive and have better fibre quality. Cotton is one of Bangladesh’s most important cash crops, and the new variety – CDB Tula 1 – developed in record time using nuclear technology, was released and registered earlier this year.
In neighbouring Pakistan, where over a quarter of the agricultural land is affected by salinity, the country’s experts, in collaboration with the IAEA and the FAO, have developed different mitigation options to address this problem.