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Biotech rice to multiply production again

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30th-Dec-2017       
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THE discovery of new biotech rice is indeed a good news when existing high yield rice varieties are facing slow down in production from growing loss of their growth potentials. Scientists at Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) have been able to develop the first biotech rice variety when the country is struggling to harvest enough rice to overcome growing shortfall. Media report said the newly discovered biotech rice - BRRIdhan-86 is having half metric tons (per hectare) of extra yield potential over the country's most produced rice variety BRRIdhan-28. The stems of BRRIdhan-86 are strong and stout and easy to reap by mechanical harvesters. The new rice will surely play greater role to ensure food security. Moreover farmers can be able to harvest seeds with machine amidst growing shortage of farm labours.
We applaud our scientists for the discovery when we are increasingly importing rice to overcome supply shortage. BRRI scientists applied the biotech for the first time in rice science where immature pollens are made to divide and grow into tissues either on solid and liquid medium. They have also developed a new rice variety with highest ever zinc (27.6 mg/kg) content and moderately enriched iron micronutrient named BRRIdhan-84. Earlier in 2013, scientists had released world's first biofortified zinc-rich rice variety BRRIdhan-62. Since then our scientists have developed six zinc-rich rice varieties to achieve the highest ever success in rice production.
Zinc deficiency causes stunting, while iron deficiency is a leading cause of anemia. More than one-third of under-five children in Bangladesh are stunted, while more than 43 percent women of reproductive age are anemic. The government has approved short-duration transplanted Aus variety - BRRIdhan-82, broadcast Aus variety BRRIdhan-83 and BRRIdhan-85; which can withstand stagnant water. Both the biotech rice and the zinc-rich rice are good substitute to Boro-season mega variety - BRRIdhan-28. They have higher yield compared to BRRIdhan-28.
The new varieties have come when two of the country's most common rice varieties - BRRIdhan28 and BRRIdhan29 are losing potential due to aging. They offer promise of higher production against the backdrop of diminishing returns from existing rice varieties. The growth of rice production slowed down to over 0.7 percent in five years (2012-16), from as high as 4.8 percent in the preceding five years (2007-11).
Since liberation, rice production more than tripled but the agricultural growth is slowing down in recent years forcing scientists to discover new varieties. They have proved success. Experts suggest replacing existing rice varieties can reap more yield from less land and go for agricultural diversity. The government should take proper extension programme at the field level and reach the seeds to farmers in time. It will be able to bring breakthrough in rice production again.

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