Guyana to benefit from technology transfer agreement with India
Stabroek News
February 26, 2002

An agreement was reached recently between the local Institute of Applied Science and Technology (IAST) and the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in India for the transfer of commercial technology from that country to Guyana.

The two sides have developed a technical cooperation programme under a bilateral agreement between the governments of Guyana and India, which is geared to facilitate the transfer and implementation of commercial technologies. The two parties have since developed a Memorandum of Understanding, which outlines the objectives and other details of the programme.

Speaking to Stabroek News last Friday, Director of IAST, Roshan Habibullah, disclosed that his agency and the CSIR have agreed to establish a framework of cooperation with a focus on the transfer of technologies in areas with potential for commercial use in Guyana.

He noted that this would include technology development, field studies, extension services and joint feasibility studies for exploitation of local resources.

CSIR is a network of 39 laboratories registered under the Societies Registration with its main office at Rafi Marg, New Delhi. Over its 60 years of existence, it has built a strong scientific base with good infrastructure and expertise in all the major fields of science and technology.

CSIR performs basic and applied research development in the fields of natural and engineering sciences and its major objectives are transfer of scientific knowledge and technologies for practical applications in industries and government agencies.

According to Habibullah, the instruments of cooperation would facilitate the sharing of research strengths, exchange visits, testing and analysis, and an appropriate database or information system. The areas of cooperation initially would be in agriculture, natural resources (mining, forestry and fishery) information technology, and environmental technologies, he noted.

Moreover, in the implementation of technology transfer the IAST director said, proven technologies from each party would be identified for possible technology transfer through exchange of delegations on a yearly basis. He explained that under the MOU it was agreed that each side would send a three or four-member delegation comprising experts in identified areas. The receiving side would provide adequate exposure to the developed/commercialised technologies for possible bilateral transfer.

He also pointed out that the MOU would have a duration of five years once it was signed and could be renewed for suitable periods or renounced by either of the parties by means of written notice six months in advance.

IAST, a governmental industrial research institute, was established in 1977 and has its office is at the Turkeyen Campus of the University of Guyana, Greater Georgetown. It has the mandate to identify, support and implement programmes that would enhance the industrial development of the country and it takes into account the government's priority programmes as well as the resources available in the country.

IAST over the years has been involved in developing a number of projects in different sectors, including energy, minerals, ceramics, environment, agriculture and forestry research. In addition, the institute provides services to support areas of environmental monitoring and food and water quality.

Further, Habibullah said, after lengthy consultations with CSIR and extensive studies IAST has been able to identify a number of technologies in India that Guyana had the potential to develop and exploit. He said also that in most cases Guyana had the resources but lacked the necessary technology.

Among the technologies available in India, he noted those related to bricks, blocks, tiles, water purification, aromatic plants, medicinal plants, leather, pottery and metal work.

According to him, India has the necessary technologies to develop such projects and as soon as businessmen and women express an interest, his institute would ensure a smooth transfer.

He insisted that IAST would not only facilitate the process of transferring the technologies but would also play the role of technical adviser. But he warned that even though the technology might be available, that did not mean that setting up the project would be beneficial. He therefore urged that interested persons first examine whether the necessary resources were available, and determine if there was a potential market for the finished products and the project's profitability.

He also pointed out that through the programme, small-scale rice farmers could acquire mini rice mills with modern features that could be used to mill rice and provide access to by-products such as husk, bran and broken rice.

He explained that the mini rice mill had the capacity of 300 to 500 kilogrammes of paddy, which would meet the needs of more than four villages. The mill consists of a paddy cleaner, sheller, separator and a polisher.

He explained further that there was also the technology to make boards from coconut husk, and such boards could be used in place of plywood for partitioning, ceilings and panelling. The director stated that the coconut husk had self-binding properties and boards could be made using only 0.5% adhesive. He said that in making the board, the husk was cut and pieces beaten by a wooden mallet and shredded. The shreds were dried and coated with phenol formaldehyde resin, formed into mats and pressed at 150 degrees Celsius at 10kg/cm for 30 minutes to get 20 millimetres of thick boards.

Habibullah noted that there were other technologies available to Guyanese businessmen who were willing to invest. He observed that with the rapid revolutionising of the global economy it was time that all Guyana looked towards exploring new ideas and strategies for development.

He contended that Guyana's economy could no longer depend on the traditional sectors of bauxite, sugar and rice for development since they had been failing over the years.

He said that all of the necessary arrangements for the programme to come on stream were already in place but the Ministry of Finance had to sign the MOU to enable the process to begin. He also indicated that a few persons had already shown interest in acquiring one or more of the technologies, which have been advertised in the print media.