About 15 years ago, on a cloudy afternoon, a middle-aged man with greying hair entered my room and said, âProfessor Gupta, I am a chartered accountant in Mumbai and work with a family trust which is interested in supporting socially useful initiatives. We have checked everything about you and SRISTI (Society for Research and Initiative for Sustainable Technologies and Institutions). Is there a dream that has remained unfulfilled? I was a bit flabbergasted. How can a stranger make such a generous offer so directly and precisely?
His name was Anil Kamdar, a member of Sadbhav Trust set up by a business family in Mumbai under the leadership of Shri Madhukar Seth. I said, Yes, there is one dream that haunts me all the time. You know that SRISTI has documented thousands of Innovations and Traditional Knowledge Practices through volunteers of Honey Bee Network (HBN). But while trying to work with scientists, we have not been able to add value to any of the grassroots knowledge based experiments/practices so far, and without adding value, we cannot share financial benefits with the communities except sharing experiments/knowledge collected from others? We should set up a natural product laboratory.
A proposal was quickly developed; and,Sadbhav-SRISTI-SanshodhanNatural Product Laboratory (SSSNPL) was established in the year 2000, as an integral but very important part of SRISTI. That’s how began the journey of value added products by pooling and validating creative practices of different communities and individuals with full acknowledgement and attribution, and appropriation of benefits for the communities.While the lab was established with the initial capital grant support from the Sadbhav Trust, Mumbai, subsequent support was received from the National Innovation Foundation (NIF) and projects sponsored by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India.
Honey Bee Network recalls this example to share how so many volunteers in different fields have absorbed the spirit of HBN and contributed generously towards its mission. Commercialization as well as sharing of formulations of the value added products as open source have been two of the major strategies of the SSSNPL lab.
SRISTI believes that adding value to indigenous knowledge will help local communities co-exist with biodiversity by reducing primary extraction and generating long term benefits. Such an approach will lead to augmenting sustainable resource use and livelihood support systems.
One way of ensuring value addition is by conducting research based activities. Hence, the rationale to set up a laboratory, which will convert local knowledge and resources into value added products with simultaneous development of processing facilities in rural region where sound resources exist. The envisaged goals of the Lab are to:
- Validation and Value addition of the grass roots innovation/traditional practices
- Development of eco-friendly non-chemical options for pest management and animal healing
- Generation and sharing of wealth with grassroots innovators (Share the financial benefits, accruing from commercialization of new products and technologies, with local innovators and communities)
- Creation of products for non-commercial as well as commercial diffusion
- Organization of entrepreneurs
- Scientific Discipline to bridge the gap of informal and formal knowledge
- Development of Botanical Pesticides
- Development of veterinary formulations
- Screening of actinomycetes against pathogenic bacteria and fungi
- Screening of herbal formulations against targeted organisms
- Phytochemical Extraction
- Extract Evaluation for the Validation of Practice
- Phytochemical Fingerprinting of the Herbal Plant for Quality Assurance
- Extraction of Essential Oil
- Evaluation of Essential Oil for Plant Disease Control
- Isolation of Microbes from the conserved / natural resources
- Invitro screening of microbes for evaluation of Biocontrol / Antibiotic Potential
- Invitro screening of the extract against cancer cell line (in collaboration)
- Formulation Development for agricultural, veterinary, and Human diseases based on the innovators practices
- Evaluation of the Shelf Life of Herbal formulation
- Multilocations field trial for practice validation and value added formulation
- Conservation of Endangered & Threatened Plants and development of their regeneration protocol
- Protection of the intellectual rights of the innovators through patenting the formulations.
- Creation of infrastructure for innovated products and local market through technology dissemination in rural communities.
The idea is also to generate income resources for the local healers involved in the innovated product through commercialization of the products.