Tribal Welfare Grant: GITAM Receives 3.65 Cr from DST to Set Up Sci-Tech Hubs in Andhra Pradesh

GITAM STI wins Rs 3.65 cr grant for Tribal development plan in Andhra Pradesh’s Alluri Sitarama Raju District

Four business units to be set up, each of which will initiate economic enterprises such as Niger Seed Oil Mill Units, Honey Processing Units, Solar Based Cold Storage Units, and Vegetable Processing Units

 In a groundbreaking initiative, GITAM (Deemed to be University) is pioneering a transformative approach to uplift the socio-economic conditions of the local Scheduled Tribe (ST) population in select villages of Andhra Pradesh. By establishing four (04) Science Technology and Innovation Hubs (GITAM STI Hubs), this prestigious educational institution is blending academic research and community service to create a platform that nurtures entrepreneurship and empowers the tribal youth, ultimately leading to a remarkable improvement in their overall lifestyle.

Funded by the Government of India’s Ministry of Science and Technology, and to be executed under the purview of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), these STI Hubs are the first of its kind in Paderu and Araku Valley Mandals.

Currently, a field survey is underway to identify and enroll the target beneficiaries for the project that is expected to run for a period of three years (up to 31-03-2026). This project will see several departments work in synergy as GITAM STI will collaborate with ICAR-Krishi Vigyan Kendra (ICAR-KVK), Integrated Tribal Development Authority (ITDA), National Bank for Agricultural and Rural Development (NABARD), Khadi & Village Industries Commission (KVIC), Girijan Co-Operative Corporation (GCC), and several local NGOs.

Associate Professor Dr. I. Sarat Babu, Principal Investigator from the Department of Biotechnology, GITAM School of Technology, and the team of researchers at the Science Technology and Innovation Hub of the GITAM (Deemed to be University) have been granted a funding amounting to Rs 3.65 crore towards a project aimed at uplifting the socio-economic status of the tribal population by setting-up a revenue generating model. Dr. Babu is leading the team along with co-investigators, Dr Raja Phani Pappu, Director, Dept of Research & Consultancy and Dr P Manjushree, Professor, GITAM School of Business.

Speaking about the initiative, Dr. Raja Pappu said, “The tribal communities have long faced socio-economic challenges that hindered their growth and progress. However, GITAM (Deemed to be) University has recognized the immense potential hidden within these communities, and is leading the initiative to provide them with the tools, resources, and knowledge necessary for self-sustenance and success.” 

Speaking about the novelty of the project Dr. Babu added, “The GITAM STI Hubs go beyond the traditional boundaries of academic research by directly engaging with the tribal communities and uplift their socio-economic conditions. Professors, researchers, and students from diverse fields collaborate closely with the local inhabitants, bridging the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical application. By leveraging their expertise, the university creates an environment that fosters innovation, problem-solving, and skill development, tailored specifically to the needs and aspirations of the tribal population.”

The overall goal of the STI Hub is to improve the livelihood of small and marginalised tribal communities and help with skill development through the formation of 2 FPOs (Farmer Producer Organisation) and 20 SHGs (Self Help Group) reaching out to 1000 beneficiaries. It also aims at creating value chains through Science and Technology Interventions and the develop social enterprises. The activity will help improve the physical and human capitals of selected beneficiaries as well as lead to improvement in the health and nutritional status of the tribals.

To function within the framework of Science for Equity Empowerment and Development (SEED) Division, four business units will be set up, each of which will initiate economic enterprises such as Niger Seed Oil Mill Units, Honey Processing Units, Solar Based Cold Storage Units, and Vegetable Processing Units for vegetables including broccoli, cucumber, ginger, etc.

The GITAM STI Hub is operated in the “Hub and Spoke Model”. The main hub will be in Paderu (district headquarters) while the 12 identified villages in the Paderu (Thumpada, Modapalle, Minumuluru, Raigedda, Talarisingi and Yegumodaputtu) and Araku Valley (Padmapuram, Pappuduvalasa, Yandapallivalasa, Chompi, Hattaguda and Lotheru) Mandals will act as spokes. The hubs are well equipped with Niger seed oil Processing Units, Honey Processing Units, Solar based Cold storage Units, Vegetable Processing Units, and Quality Assurance, Quality Control Laboratories for Honey, and Niger oil, along with the training centers. 

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