Kerala starts an assessment of its potential in biotechnology

Thiruvananthapuram: Biodiversity-rich Kerala is starting an assessment of its potential in biotechnology, seen as one of the biggest growth areas in global business in the near future.

The government has appointed a special officer to study Kerala's potential and prepare a long-term approach paper on biotechnology, suggesting ways to exploit the state's resources, including its vast herbal wealth.

The special officer, Rajiv Vasudevan, says he will prepare a roadmap for developing the sector and find a way to coordinate the work of the half-a-dozen biotechnology institutes in the state, among them the Tropical Botanical Garden Research Institute and the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute.

Vasudevan, who used to head the IT Technopark here, says the areas he would look into include reserves of herbs for herbal extracts, pharma-related work, marine biotechnology and education. "Investment is not a problem. Like what has happened in Andhra Pradesh, where the central and state governments and the private sector joined hands to develop ICICI Biotechnology Park, Kerala too could look into this area," Vasudevan tells domain-b.com.

Says Kerala Finance Minister K Sankaranarayanan: "We are working out a biotechnology policy that would be announced shortly. I have already set apart Rs 15 million in the current budget to meet the initial expenses."

Vasudevan says a biotechnology park is being planned. "Though the location has still not been finalised, the state capital has an advantage because it houses the major research institutes."