Using drought-, flood- and saline-tolerant rice varieties and maintaining quality of seeds could help make Bangladesh a rice surplus country, agriculturists and policymakers said yesterday.
"Approximately four million hectares of area suffer perpetually from one to other stresses… If stress-tolerant rice varieties, along with their management technologies, can add even one ton of rice a hectare, our annual rice production would increase by almost 4 million tons of rice," said Shawkat Momen Shahjahan, chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on the ministry of agriculture.
Saline-tolerant variety, BRRI Dhan-47 and two flood-tolerant varieties -- BRRI Dhan-51 and BRRI Dhan-52 -- have been released in the country recently, he said. However, the country is yet to see release of any drought-tolerant variety.
Attention should also be given to quality seed production, said Shawkat Momen at the inaugural ceremony of a regional training as the chief guest at the Spectra Convention Centre in the city.
"It has been proved that using only quality seed can increase rice yields by 15 to 20 percent. This means we can get an additional around 2 million tons of rice if all the farmers start using quality seeds," he said at the programme on 'Quality rice seed production training course'.
The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) organised the training under a project 'Stress Tolerant Rice for Poor Farmers in Africa and South Asia [STRASA]' with the assistance from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Dr Noel P Magor of IRRI said agriculture researchers, extension officials and the farmers should work together to combat the challenges of climate change on agriculture. US Singh of IRRI India said regional collaboration in agriculture research and seed testing could reduce cost and help the region build a stronger agriculture system.