Bangladesh celebrates today the 50th anniversary of International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), which played a key role in developing new varieties of rice to feed our ever-increasing population.
Marking the anniversary, the Ministry of Agriculture and IRRI jointly organised a rice fair in order to exhibit different varieties of rice from all over the country along with the supporting technology at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in Dhaka.
A workshop will also be arranged on the same venue to discuss the contribution of IRRI to the rice science in Bangladesh, officials of IRRI and the agriculture ministry said at a news conference at the National Press Club in the capital yesterday.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will inaugurate the programme, while Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury and Food and Disaster Management Minister Abdur Razzaque will be present as special guests.
Dr Robert Zeigler, director general of IRRI will attend as the guest of honour. The fair will be inaugurated after the opening session and will remain open until the afternoon of July 14.
"We want to recognise the immense contribution of IRRI in developing new rice varieties in Bangladesh," said Anwar Faruque, director general of seed wing of the Agriculture Ministry.
"We are proud that annual production of rice, our chief crop, has now increased to 3 crore tonnes from only one crore in the '70s," he said. IRRI has trained our scientists and implemented new technologies to accomplish this feat, he added.
Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) has so far developed 51 new varieties and four hybrid varieties, which are cultivated in 70 percent of land, leading to self-sufficiency in food, he said.
Anwar Faruque said BRRI with assistance from IRRI has developed a saline-tolerant and two submergence-tolerant varieties.
Besides, Bangladesh Institute of Nuclear Agriculture (BINA) is about to develop two more saline-tolerant varieties of rice, said its officials.
Dr. Zeigler said Bangladesh had been facing many challenges in agriculture, but has kept up its efforts aggressively, over the years, in order to feed its people.
IRRI will continue to support Bangladesh as it did in the past, he said, adding that development of more varieties can greatly help ensure food security.
IRRI Representative in Bangladesh, Dr Zainul Abedin said water management and soil fertility have become an issue of crucial importance for Bangladesh. IRRI is working to improve it here, he said.
Dr. Zeigler also met Foreign Minister Dr Dipu Moni at the ministry who thanked him for IRRI`s incessant support to Bangladesh in increasing the food production. She expects IRRI to continue the support, she added.