The JRD Tata Ecotechnology Centre was established in the Foundation in 1996, with support from the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust, Mumbai and is dedicated to the memory of the late JRD Tata. The Centre undertakes pioneering research and development activities to diffuse environmentally sound technologies through the Biovillage model of sustainable development based on a rural system research methodology which gives concurrent emphasis to raising farm productivity and profitability as well as non-farm employment, including small scale industries and ecoenterprises. Thus the model focuses on promoting a human centred development following being an inclusive and process oriented approach for sustainable livelihoods at the grass root level. The framework includes PTD mode for technology transfers, Training and capacity building, grass root institution building, micro financial services and partnerships and linkages with other Government departments and agencies.
The Centre has also scaled up this approach at micro-watershed level through the concept of Bio-industrial watersheds. The broad objective being to extend the techniques of sustainable management of natural resources, on a watershed scale, managed by the local community of farm women and men, and landless labourers in five major soil regions of India.
The Centre also focuses on value chain approach for available bioresources. As part of this and as a response to aftermath of tsunami and need based request from the fishing communities along the coast, the Fish for All - Research and Training Centre has been established which functions as a training and demonstration centre for the fishermen/ fisherwomen on a KVK model (learning by doing) to help in strengthening and diversifying the existing livelihoods and identifying alternative livelihoods for the resource poor to add value to the chain from "Capture/Culture - Commercialisation – Consumption ".
In all these approaches focus is given on strengthening, diversifying and identifying alternative livelihood options and eco-entrepreneurship with a special focus on the landless and marginal households through Self Help Groups (SHGs) and farmers federations. The Centre promotes and establishes user managed ICT-based Community Learning Centres, which supplies need based dynamic information like market, weather and climate to the different sections of the community. Community based institutions like SHGs federations and farmers associations are facilitated, which act as an effective local forum for decentralised planning and action.