Creation of a knowledge society was the need of the hour to ensure a sustainable socio-economic development, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Mahatma Gandhi University Rajan Varghese has said.

Dr. Varghese was inaugurating an international symposium on ‘‘Advances in herbal science and technology' at Mar Athanasios College for Advanced Studies at Thiruvalla (Macfast) at Thukalasserry on Friday.

According to him, the ability of a nation to use and create knowledge capital determined its capacity for human resources development. Dr. Varghese said private-public partnership could do a lot in creating a knowledge society and higher education centres like Macfast stood as a model to the rest of the country.

Addressing the function, Abraham Mulamoottil, chairman of Pushpagiri Group of Institutions, said 21 century is a ‘knowledge century' and it was the brain power that was going to be counted much in deciding the country's place in the world.

Separate technical sessions on nano technology, biodiversity, herbal cosmetics, and herbal science in health care were held.

In his talk on medicinal herbs in India, S.N. Shah, founder director of Herbal Research and Development Institute, Lucknow, said the demand for medicinal herbs were increasing, putting pressure on its wild locations and depleting the resources, ultimately posing threat to the species itself.

He said a systematic survey of medicinal herbs was badly needed to know their availability and status.

Bala Nambisan from Tuber Crops Research Institute, Thiruvananthapuram, spoke on the medicinal value of tuber crops and S. Rajashekharan and P.G. Latha, both scientists from Tropical Botanical Garden and Research Institute, Palode, spoke on the traditional knowledge associated with biodiversity and ethno-pharmacology of medicinal plants found in Kerala.

A.A.P. Weerakkody from Sri Lanka presented a paper on the potential and prospects for production of organic herbs in the tropics.

M.D. Nair, bio-technology consultant from Chennai, will speak on various ethical issues related to utilisation of bio-resources on Saturday.