Thursday , May 13 2021

Hybrid rice will feed the growing population: analysts

The hybrid rice area – which offers higher yields than conventional inbred varieties – has not seen a significant change since 1998-99, when the government authorized it to grow.

The hybrid rice pad has remained unchanged at 8 hectares over the past few years and has still crossed the 10-acre-hectare mark, the highest one recorded in 2009-10.

Until now, 174 hybrid seeds have been released, but nearly 30 of them have survived because of farmers' unwillingness to use seeds, which they believe may not be able to generate expected yields, analysts said yesterday.

Greater hybrid rice cultivation can help the country to prevent the future challenge of reducing the trend of cultivating land, said in the "Hybrid rice – using untapped potential" dialogue.

The Rice Foundation in Bangladesh (BRF) and the Bangladesh Seed Association (BSA) jointly organized the dialogue in the Doha Bangladeshi Research Council conference hall.

Poor seed quality, inadequate research to invent a good variety of seeds, and a lack of awareness among farmers are the major challenges to the popularity of hybrid rice, according to them.

The fertile land, which amounts to 62,000 hectares, is reduced annually due to the accumulated population, which leaves a negative impact on agricultural production, said Mr Nasirusaman, responsible for agriculture.

Climate change, the rapid expansion of salinity in new arable land, and the frequency of natural disasters in recent years have also hampered the rise in rice production, he said, turning to the event as the chief guest.

The country has to produce an additional 20kg tonnes each year against the average annual production of 348kg of rice in order to achieve self-sufficiency in the yield of the main crop, he said.

The production of hybrid rice in more agricultural lands will give us a solution stemming from the challenges, as its yield is 15-20% higher than the inbred, said Nasirusaman.

He proposed to seed producers to use the southern part of the country, where the rough variety of rice is popular among the inhabitants.

Farmers usually believe they may not get their desired production if they cultivate hybrid rice, said Anis Wood Dol, president of the Bangladesh Seed Association.

"The private sector plays a vital role in promoting culture and the government must also take the initiative to find out how to take care of hybrid seed of farmers," said Anis, also chair of the ACI Group.

The highest priority should be to create a hybrid research institute for rice to meet the challenges of amylase and abiotic and biotic stress, said Shahjahan Kabir, Director-General of the Bread Research Institute of Bangladesh (BRRI).

"The production of hybrid rice seeds is high-tech, so the necessary support should be lengthened at the level of the farmer who has an interest in dealing with the seed production process," he said.

Mohammed Masum, chairman of the Supreme Seed Company, and Jamil Hasan, head of the BRRI hybrid division, presented two separate papers in the dialogue.

Relevant authorities must provide sufficient resources, human resources, training and logistical support to all stakeholders to help the flourishing of hybrid rice, said Masum.

Referring to the data from the Ministry of Agriculture, he said the growing of hybrid rice accounts for only 7.13% of the total of 1.14 hectares of land in 2016-17.

The hybrid rice sector must be declared a push in the financial policy of Bangladesh Bank, Hassan said while presenting his report.

By the way, Z Karim, former chairman of Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council; AM Muazzam Husain, Chairman of BRF, and Sayed AB Siddiqui, CEO, also spoke at the event.

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