BD attaches priority to farm research: Matia

29 Nov,2017

Dhaka, BdChronicle:

Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury has said more investment in farm research is a high priory of Bangladesh.


“The purposeful investment in agricultural research and development is a high priority of the Bangladesh government to achieve sustainable and inclusive development. We hope that IRRI will continue to provide the technical support we need through collaborative programs for our vision of a food- and nutrition-secure future,” Matia was quoted yesterday by a statement released by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).


Agriculture Minister is currently leading a Bangladesh delegation to a visit to the Philippines-based IRRI, which has strong collaboration with Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI). 


Enhancing practical farmer knowledge, climate change mitigation strategies, and improving farm productivity for the Bangladesh rice sector were the focus of the visit of Bangladesh Agriculture Minister to the IRRI headquarters, said the IRRI release.


Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury’s visit to IRRI is part of the minister’s efforts to help the Bangladesh rice sector cope with the drastic effects of climate change and degradation of natural resources through the institute’s advanced agricultural technologies and innovative farming approaches.


IRRI said, “The past several years showed an improvement in rice production in Bangladesh. However, in 2017, three episodes of severe flash floods have ravaged large agricultural areas of the country, particularly in the northern districts. At least 8 million people and around 8,000 hectares of paddy have been affected, leading to food shortage and hiked rice prices over the past few months.”


Matia along with other Bangladesh delegates went around the institute’s facilities and interacted with IRRI staff to learn more about the development and deployment of climate change-resilient rice varieties, remote-sensing and drone technology, improved natural resource management practices, grain quality and nutrition, and capacity-building programs.


“Agriculture Minister Chowdhury was particularly was very enthusiastic during the tour to the C4 rice screen-house and had a fruitful discussion on the future prospects of the C4 rice project,” said the IRRI release.


Rice uses the C3 photosynthetic pathway, which in hot and dry environments is much less efficient than the C4 pathway used by other plants such as maize, sugarcane and sorghum. Scientists under an international collaboration in league with IRRI have been working to "switch" rice plant to use C4 photosynthesis and when it is realized they (scientists) expect a 50 percent productivity increase of Asia’s number one staple and third most consumed cereal in the world after maize and wheat.  


IRRI Director General Dr. Matthew Morell said that the institute will continue to work with the Bangladesh government to ensure collaborative and responsive programs for the rice sector are in place to meet the current and future needs of the country’s rice industry, particularly for the vulnerable farmers and consumers.


“IRRI is deliberately strengthening our presence in the South Asian region by closely working with our partners in determining how IRRI’s research initiatives can best fit with the priorities of the government,” added Dr. Morell.


The partnership between Bangladesh and IRRI started in 1965 when 303 rice varieties were tested in the country. Ongoing initiatives in the country have focused on conserving rice genetic diversity, improving rice varieties and resource management practices, and enhancing capacity-building programs for farmers and national agricultural extension and research staff.


The Bangladesh delegation included high government officials: Dr. Md. Shahjahan Kabir (Director General, Bangladesh Rice Research Institute), Dr. Bhagya Rani Banik (Executive Chairman of the Bangladesh Agriculture Research Center), and Dr. Wais Kabir (Executive Director of the Krishi Gobeshona Foundation).


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