The Synthetic and Art Silk Mills’ Research Association (SASMIRA) situated in Worli, Mumbai, Maharastra (www.agrotech.sasmira.org) is the Centre of Excellence in Agrotextiles (COE-Agrotech) in association with Man-made Textile Research Association (MANTRA), Surat, Navsari Agricultural University (NAU), Navsari and Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), New Delhi.
A textile fabric has a long history of application in agriculture. Textiles in different forms are exclusively used for many agricultural end uses that include knits, wovens, non-wovens, extruded sheets, moulded products, ropes, belts, etc. The Agrotextile sector comprises of all textiles that are used in growing, harvesting, protection and storage of either crops or animals. Agrotextiles help to keep sufficient soil humidity and increase the soil temperature. Various synthetics as well as natural fibres are used in agrotextiles applications viz. Nylon, Polyester, Polyethylene, Polyolefin, Polypropylene, Jute, Wool, etc. Among all these fibres the Polyolefin is extensively used where as among natural, jute and wool is used as it not only serves the purpose but also after few years it can degrade and act as a natural fertilizer. Man-made fibres give advantages over natural fibres, mainly due to their favourable price/ performance ratio, ease of transport as well as set-up, space saving storage and long service life.
Agrotextile includes diverse items such as fishing nets and fish lines, ropes, shade fabrics, mulch mats, woven and non-woven covers for crops, bird protection nets, wind-break screens, frost protection covers, hail netting, insect screens, silage protection, ventilation screens, shading and reflection screens, etc.
Agrotextiles are driving the agrosector profitably by improving the productivity and reducing the need for chemicals. The need to feed an ever-expanding population is the underlying driving force behind the agrotech sector. COE-Agrotech is set-up with a vision “to become a world class leading service, driven with research based international technical textile association to serve the industry in general and agriculture sector in particular”. With this vision, its mission is to create awareness regarding the advantages of agrotextiles to improve productivity and quality of the produce with state-of- the-art infrastructure of testing and certification, demonstration & training and information centre to support the entrepreneur needs.
In line with its vision and mission of creating awareness regarding agrotextiles products amongst agriculturist and textile technocrats, SASMIRA has so far conducted various seminars across the country in association with the Agriculture Universities, Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVK’s) and local agricultural bodies. COE-Agrotech organizes these seminars to explore the enormous potential of Agro Textiles and their products. The Seminar also aims to provide a unique platform to comprehensively address the concerns and bring together the stake-holders viz., farmers, the industry, agro products manufacturers, agro processing goods manufacturers, fishing industry professionals, investors, financial institutions, warehousing companies, engineers, technicians and consultants working on all types of agro textiles.
1) Accreditation of COE-Agrotech laboratory by American Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA), USA: The COE-Agrotech laboratory for Physical, Chemical and Biological testing of textiles and allied substrates were audited for renewal of accreditation and after successful audit the renewal was granted. The accreditation is now valid upto March 2015. Total 129 tests are accredited under A2LA accreditation for mechanical, chemical and biological testing of textiles and allied products.
2) One day seminar on “Prophylactic Cultivation using Agrotextiles” by COE-Agrotech: A Seminar on “Prophylactic Cultivation using Agrotextiles” was held on Saturday, 16th March 2013 at Farmers Training Hall, KVK, Jawaharlal Nehru Krishi Vishwa Vidyalaya, Jabalpur jointly by SASMIRA and KVK, JNKVV, Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh. The programme was supported by The Office of the Textile Commissioner, Ministry of Textiles, Government of India. The seminar program was inaugurated by Honorable, Shri V. S. Tomar, Vice Chancellor, Jawaharlal Nehru Krishi Vishwa Vidyalya (JNKVV). The Three technical sessions conducted during the seminar highlighted the Ministerial support to the agriculture and agrotextiles sector as well as the manufacturing techniques for the agrotextile products including the raw materials, the success stories of few greenhouse farmers and the role of Centre of Excellence for Agrotextiles, SASMIRA.
3) Training Programme on Microbiology by COE-Agrotech: Five days training programme on “Testing of Antimicrobial Textiles” was conducted at Microbiology laboratory, SASMIRA for candidates from Dharwad Agriculture University, Dharwad and Karnataka from 11th March to 15th March 2013. Training programme included introduction to lab procedure of general microbiology, hands on training of International test methods for testing antimicrobial efficacy of textile substrates as per AATCC, ISO and ASTM. The International test standards included AATCC 100, AATCC 147, AATCC 30, ASTM E 2149 and ISO 20645.