Shifting the focus from traditional starch and sago to new generation industries like biofuels – ethanol and bioplastics can bring significant changes in the livelihoods of Malayali tribals– is the message delivered during the Entrepreneurship Development programme “Cassava-based Agro-Enterprises for Developing Sustainable Livelihoods” organised by ICAR - Central Tuber Crops Research Institute (ICAR-CTCRI), Thiruvananthapuram in collaboration with Veterinary College & Research Institute, Namakkal, National Institute for Agricultural Extension Management (MANAGE), Hyderabad and Hands in Hand India (NGO) at the Top – Sengottupatti Village, Pachamalai Hills today.
The programme was organised to explore new ways of commercializing cassava by converting them into new generation products like ethanol, bioplastics, animal feed and functional foods. A team of scientists from ICAR-CTCRI led by Dr. P. Sethuraman Sivakumar, Principal Scientist along with Dr V. Uma and Dr S. Karthikeyan, Assistant Professors of Veterinary College have sensitised tribal farmers on various business options available using cassava based value added technologies.
During the meeting, Dr V. Ramesh, Principal Scientist, explained techniques of profitable soil fertility management. The opportunities and methods of producing quality seeds were dealt by Dr R. Muthuraj, Principal Scientist while Dr. M. Surulirajan, Assistant Professor, Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK), Sirugamani briefed about various pests and disease management in the industrial cassava production. Dr. D. Jagananthan of ICAR-CTCRI and Shri. Murugesan of Hands in Hand India demonstrated various value products developed from cassava.
In the Scientist-Farmer Interface was organised as part of this event, the cassava farmers interacted with Scientists on specific aspects related to cassava value addition and entrepreneurship development. A short-term strategy for introducing high starch cassava varieties like Sree Athulya and Sree Pavithra in Pachamalai through Minisett propagation techniques was decided through farmer participatory mode at the meeting. About 100 Malayali tribal farmers took part in the meeting.