Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) will release three more varieties of the country's first genetically modified (GM) crop -- Bt Brinjal, which is infused with pest-resistant gene.
BARI Director General Dr Abul Kalam Azad made the announcement at a workshop on “Bt Eggplant Research and Development,” in a Dhaka hotel yesterday.
“Bt technology is not a panacea. It works only against shoot and fruit borer. For other diseases, we must manage using other mechanism,” he added.
Farmers from Rajshahi, Rangpur, Pabna and Gazipur started cultivating the Bt Brinjal for the first time in 2014.
Currently, around 6,000 farmers in 36 districts are growing four Bt Brinjal verities -- BARI Bt (Uttara), BARI Bt (Kajla), BARI Bt (Nayontar) and ISD006 Bt BARI.
BARI Chief Scientific Officer ASM Mahbubur Rahman Khan during his presentation on “Performance of Bt brinjal varieties at Farmers Field” and mentioned that the cultivation of this GM crop increased in the country.
Production cost becomes lower for no application of insecticides and higher gross margin obtained in the cultivation of Bt Brinjal, he observed adding that many farmers demanded seeds for cultivation.
However, the sucking insects such as white fly and diseases such as bacterial wilt need to be managed in Bt Brinjal fields, he mentioned.
Prof Anthony M Shelton, director of Feed the Future South Asia Eggplant Improvement Project from Cornell University, said the Bt Brinjal is safe and it has no health hazard.
Speaking as chief guest at the programme, Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury said the development of brinjal shoot and fruit borer insect resistant Bt Brinjal is a success story of local and foreign collaboration.
With the journey of cultivating Bt Brinjal, Bangladesh has joined a group of 29 countries that grow GM crops.
Agriculture Ministry Secretary (In-charge) Mohammad Nazmul Islam chaired the programme while Environment and Forests Secretary Istiaque Ahmad, Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council Executive Chairman Dr Mohammad Jalal Uddin, Department of Environment Director General Raisul Alam Mondol, USAID country representative Matt J Curtis, BARI former DG Rafiqul Islam Mondol, Department of Agriculture Extension Director Manjurul Hannan among others spoke.