Micro-Propagation: A Revolution in Agriculture

Have you ever imagined a life without technology? Probably the thought never even crossed our minds. Science has become an integral part of human life. It has penetrated into every corner of the human existence. Scientists are working relentlessly to bring out newer inventions that can make life easier and more comfortable. However we cannot deny the fact that science has also been the reason for major destruction in the world. But having said that we must also not forget that not all inventions are made with an intention of destruction, only used by wrong people for wrong reasons.

The technology that I intend to discuss here is Micro-propagation. It’s a technique used in the field of agriculture. Since India is a country with more than 70% of agrarian population, its only fair that we discuss a technology that relates to agriculture. According to Wikipedia, Micro-propagation is the practice of rapidly multiplying stock plant material to produce a large number of progeny plants, using modern plant tissue culture methods. Micro-propagation is used to multiply novel plants, such as those that have been genetically modified or bred through conventional plant breeding methods. It is also used to provide a sufficient number of plantlets for planting from a stock plant which does not produce seeds or does not respond well to the vegetative reproduction.

The method of Micro-propagation goes through several stages—establishment, multiplication, pretransplantation and finally transfer from culture. In the final stage, the processed plantlets are removed from the plant media and transferred to soil or more commonly to potting compost for continued growth by conventional methods. The major advantage of Micro-propagation is the production of many plants that are clones of each other. It can also be used to produce disease free plants . It produces rooted plantlets ready for growth, saving the time for the grower when seeds or cuttings are slow to establish or grow. Also, the produce is higher than those produced by conventional methods. A large number of plants produced on a comparatively smaller area.

However, the method is not without disadvantages. First and foremost, the method is very expensive and thus is not affordable for all farmers. The infected plant sample can produce infected progeny. Moreover, not all plants can be successfully tissue cultured. The major limitation in the use of this method for many plants is the cost of production which is very high. In such cases, the use of seeds which are normally disease free and produced in high numbers at lower cost is more preferable. For this reason many breeders refrain from using it. Mechanization of this process could reduce the labour cost, but has proven difficult to achieve, despite active attempts to develop technological solutions.

The method, if introduced in India on a larger scale, could prove a bane for the farmers who suffer from low production or slow growth rate of their produce. If the government is able to come up with solutions which are cost effective, the method of Micro-propagation is one of the methods which could enhance the agricultural standing of the country and perhaps can be looked at as a better option than the industrial sector.

However, the extensive labour used in the process could lead to employment of those who are rendered jobless due to unfavourable circumstances and are forced to turn towards the city. This way the immigration to the cities could also be checked. All we need is a vision and a wish to make a difference. The disadvantages won’t be that difficult to overcome, and we could reap the benefits of the technology.

Ekta Rai

[Image courtesy: http://www.cals.uidaho.edu/sandpoint/images/Micropropagation%202.JPG]