Superabsorbent polymers (SAPs) are hydrophilic compounds that can absorb, swell and retain considerable amount of fluids within their network structure. Because of the unique properties, SAPs possess novel applications in various fields including chemical, petroleum, construction, medicine and sanitation, agriculture and horticulture. Due to the widespread application of SAPs, especially in personal hygiene products and agriculture, the use of synthetic polymers for the synthesis of SAPs has raised concerns. The extensive use of these polymers may cause serious environmental and economic problems in future. Hence global decision supports the replacement of synthetic materials with one or more economical and environmental friendly substitutes. In this context, starch based hydrogels are particularly important due to their increased biodegradability, biocompatibility, good water absorbing ability and reduced toxicity. Replacement of at least some portions of synthetic polymer by starch promotes the biodegradation of these polymers. more.
World Food production must be doubled by the mid-21st century to feed a world population that is projected to increase from the current 6.4 billion to 9 billion using less land, far less water, and fewer nutrients in the background of negative effects of climate change on cereals. Besides, growing biofuel driven demand for grain crops (corn and oil seeds) and sugar cane is also increasing the pressure on food demand. Tuber crops constitute the important link to fill the food security gap with the ability to respond to climate change in an efficient manner. This necessitates a continuing need for the tuber crops to maintain strong productivity growth. Adaptation measures, including improved agricultural technologies, will be particularly important in reducing the potential impact in this context. Studies conducted by the Institute indicated only 45-60% adoption of production technologies in major tuber crops growing states hinting at the need to make concerted efforts to improve the diffusion/adoption of varieties and production technologies in different agro-ecological situations. The projected rise in diabetic population in India to 80 million by 2050 emphasises the need to develop low glycaemic foods and sweet potato being a low glycaemic index food is ideal for developing and popularising functional foods for such targeted population. Technologies to produce functional foods such as sweet potato pasta, gluten free cassava pasta, etc. already developed by the Institute need to be given wide publicity to reach the take off stage. Events like training programmes by AICRPTC, CTCRI-NEH collaborative seminar cum training and training workshop in Nagaland organized by the Institute are programmes directed towards the task of increasing the productivity of tuber crops through popularization of CTCRI technologies and capacity building of human resources. I congratulate Dr M.N.Sheela who joined as Head, Division of Crop Improvement. The Institute has celebrated Foundation day commemorating the 50th year of Foundation of CTCRI on July 10, 2012 in an impressive way.