Large-scale farming of flash-flood tolerant varieties of Aman crop can produce an additional six million tonnes paddy annually to make the country completely self-reliant in food production and a rice exporting nation.
The authorities concerned are now in the final stage to officially release these varieties this year to enable the farmers cultivate at larger scales from the next season and produce their own seeds.
Scientists at Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) and International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) have successfully completed necessary research, experiments and validation of these new flash-flood tolerant variety paddies.
The experiments at the field levels showed that the varieties can sustain 12 to 16 days submergence paving the way for producing over 60 lakh tonnes additional paddy with average five tonnes per hectare in flash flood prone areas of Bangladesh alone.
Repeated successes in getting expected production of flood- tolerant paddy in Bangladesh and India in recent years have ushered in a new era in the disaster-prone agriculture sector of the country, sub-continent and other flood-prone countries.
The success was achieved through farming Swarna Sub1 along with three new Sub1 entries of BR11 Sub1, IR64 Sub1 and Sambamasuri Sub1 flood-tolerant varieties of paddy using participatory variety selection mother trial methods.
In Bangladesh, scientists and farmers successfully cultivated the paddy in on station BRRI Regional Station, Rangpur and on-farm farmers' fields at Rangpur, Kurigram, Lalmonirhat, Gaibandha, Sirajganj and Nilphamari districts in the past two years.
The varieties are being cultivated successfully in Uttar Pradesh (UP), Bihar and Orissa, where Swarna Sub1 seeds were officially released by the state governments for large-scale farming. Indian union government might release these seeds very soon, too.
Scientists at BRRI, IRRI, Central Rice Research Institute and Norendra Dev University of Agriculture Technology (NDUAT) of India and University of California (UC, Davis & Riverside) developed and validated the technology.
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) provided financial assistances through IRRI to increase seed productions and disseminate the technology under its Stress Tolerant Rice for Poor Farmers in Africa & South Asia (STRASA) programme.
The scientists are hoping to overcome colossal crop losses being caused by flash floods to Aman paddy in 12 lakh hectares potential area annually in Bangladesh and 60 lakh hectares in UP, Bihar, Orissa and West Bengal by large-scale farming of these varieties.
Farmers in northern Bangladesh got desired results in farming these Sub1 entries using Developed Agronomical Management Method during past two seasons and named those 'magical paddies' for 'miraculous survivals' even after 12-16 days submergence.
Farmers Abdul Jabbar, Badsha Mian, Abul Hossain and Yasin Ali of village Jatrapur in Kurigram told BSS that their planted Swarna Sub 1 variety paddy plants successfully sustained submergence recently for 11-15 days and are growing now excellent.
Manik has cultivated Swarna Sub1 in 14 bighas and Nuruzzaman planted BR11 Sub 1 in two bighas this season and the crops show excellent growth now in Darshona of Rangpur after remaining inundated for 10 to 14 days recently.
Deputy Director General (Research) of IRRI Dr Achim Dobbermann along with Dr MA Mazid, consultant of STRASA Dr MA Bari and Head of BRRI's Rangpur Regional Station Dr MA Jalil Mridhha visited the on-farm validation of Sub1 entries here recently.
"Last season, we have successfully cultivated these Sub 1 varieties, growing plants of which sustained strains of floodwaters for 12-16 consecutive days in northern Bangladesh, then grew well and yielded better productions," Dr Mazid told BSS yesterday.
After conducting trials, preference analysis of Sub1 entries by farmers, extension providers, government organisations and NGOs in the flood-prone areas, BRRI scientists are hoping approval by technical committee of the National Seed Board for seed production soon.
Rangpur BRRI Station in collaboration with IRRI under Submergence and Flood Prone Environment Agriculture Project of Consortium for Unfavorable Rice Environment tested and validated flood tolerant Swarna Sub1 and BR11 Sub1 since 2005-2007.
Talking to BSS here recently, Regional Project Coordinator of STRASA Dr US Singh termed the success as epoch-making to largely increase global rice production and food security by overcoming negative impacts of ongoing climate changes.
"We have achieved huge success by developing and evaluating the advanced technology and are conducting research managements to produce seeds, quality seedlings and farming the paddy in submerged farm lands," he added.
These four varieties were invented through introducing Gene Sub 1 by marker aided selection, a molecular breeding method, at IRRI into Indian mega variety Swarna, Sambamasuri and Bangladeshi mega variety BR11 and Philippines variety IR 64.
Under the assistances of BRRI scientists, 735 farmers have cultivated these Sub I entries in 18.65 acres in 11 upazilas of Rangpur, Kurigram, Lalmonirhat, Nilphamari, Gaibandha and Sirajganj this year where the crop successfully sustained recent flash floods.
Head of Agriculture of RDRS MG Neogi told BSS that his NGO expects to cultivate these varieties in 500 acres land involving 1,500 farmers next year against cultivation in 28 acres involving 85 farmers this year in greater Rangpur.