AT A GLANCE
Bangladesh Jute Research Institute developed the variety
It will provide 20-24pc higher yield than a popular Indian strain
Bangladesh annually requires 6,000 tonnes of jute seed
Farmers harvest 15 lakh tonnes of jute annually
Mills consume 10 lakh tonnes of the fibre
Some 2.5 lakh tonnes of raw jute are exported
Scientists have developed a high yielding, fast growing jute variety that is expected to cut import dependence for seeds of the natural fibre, said officials.
Named BJRI Tossa Pat-8, the breed was developed by Bangladesh Jute Research Institute (BJRI) under a genome sequencing project taken up after scientists led by Maqsudul Alam decoded the jute plant's complete set of genetic instructions in 2010.
The new race will provide 20-24 percent higher yield than an Indian one, JRO-524, popular among farmers and grown extensively because of higher output and shorter maturation period compared to existing high-yield varieties developed by local scientists.
The Indian variety yields 3.02 tonnes per hectare in four months.
Bangladesh annually requires 6,000 tonnes of jute seed which is cultivated on around seven lakh hectares of land. The Indian strain is grown on around 80 percent of that area.
The BJRI has so far developed seven high-yield varieties of tossa jute but the locally developed breeds could not win hearts of farmers to that extent.
The latest type, cleared by National Seed Board at the end of last month, is expected to make a difference. It grows taller than the other varieties and the number of fibre bundles is also higher compared to the Indian one and Tossa Pat-2, said BJRI Principal Scientific Officer Md Shaihidul Islam.
“This variety will provide higher yields than Indian ones for the same duration. We are very hopeful to be hundred percent successful. This new seed will bring a revolutionary change in jute cultivation,” he said.
The BJRI, through the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), plans to grow the variety on 3,000 plots for demonstration in growing regions in the coming sowing season at the end of this month. Besides, it plans to distribute two tonnes of seed among growers, particularly in Rangpur, Dinajpur, Faridpur and Jashore districts, in the ensuing season with the objective to fast popularise the variety, said Islam.
Md Azim Uddin, chief seed technologist of the seed wing of the agriculture ministry, said higher harvests from the seeds would enable farmers to cultivate a lesser area of land.
Farmers, mainly in Dhaka, Khulna, Rajshahi and Rangpur divisions, grow jute and harvest 15 lakh tonnes of it annually. Mills consume 10 lakh tonnes of the natural fibre to make yarn and twine, sacks and bags to mainly cater to international markets.
Some 2.5 lakh tonnes of raw jute is exported and the rest is used by growers, according to estimates by Bangladesh Jute Spinners Association.
The DAE has targeted to bring 8 lakh hectares of land under jute cultivation in the coming season, up from 7.58 lakh hectares the previous year.