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How to make rice production more sustainable in Bangladesh?

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21 September 2022, Bangladesh: Researchers identified sustainable crop production models and technologies that farmers and researchers in Bangladesh can adopt to revolutionize their farming practices in a workshop hosted by the Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation (BADC) on Sunday, 18 September 2022 at Fars International Hotel and Resort in Dhaka. Scientists from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) facilitated the workshop.

The amount of technologies agricultural scientists develop is largely disproportionate to the number of them being adopted by end users including farmers and researchers. This low adoption rate is compounded by other factors including climate change, poor access to market, and lack of know-how. To address this gap, stakeholders from the BADC and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) have been working together for the past three years to develop solutions that would improve the adoption of technologies for more sustainable crop production in the country.

During the workshop, BADC team members and IRRI researchers identified that the “Crop Cafeteria Model” is the most suitable model for BADC to validate the demand for rice varieties, helping to make the crop production more efficient. It is also considered the fastest way to ensure technology transfer toward different stakeholders. Crop Cafeteria is a replicated trial to promote the diffusion of the different rice varieties among stakeholders and allow them to carry out a systematic comparison of these varieties, and eventually select their most preferred varieties.

Participants also learned about the SeedCast app for seed demand estimation and rice variety information. SeedCast is a digital tool designed to reliably collate demand for rice seeds from dealers, generated based on farmer’s demand.

Md. Sayedul Islam, Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh graced the event as the chief guest. In his speech, Md. Sayedul Islam emphasized the need for the joint collaboration with BADC and IRRI to increase research activity for strengthening the seed sector especially when it comes to seed security in Bangladesh.

“Over the past two decades that I have lived and worked in Bangladesh, it has been an honor to witness the spectacular achievements made in agriculture and experiencing how the country transforms from a food-deficit to a food-surplus one in the face of a growing population, a reduction in agricultural land, climate change, and other significant challenges. However, although the nation’s agricultural achievements should be recognized and celebrated, there is still a need to remain vigilant,” said Elizabeth Anne Ali, Manager-Corporate Services, IRRI.

In the inaugural session, Dr. Nazmul Islam, Chief Coordinator, Research Cell, BADC and Dr. Swati Nayak, Scientist and South Asia Lead for Seed Systems & Product Management of IRRI were keynote presenters.

Dr. Islam showed the different the updates and feedback on the research and training activities under the BADC-IRRI collaboration program. He also sought IRRI’s help for future research activities and capacity development of BADC officials.

Meanwhile, Dr. Nayak focused on points for strengthening the partnership between IRRI and BADC in rice research and new technological advancement contributing to sustainable food production. Dr. Nayak shared the major activities implemented by IRRI and their impact on the ground level.

In the same event, BADC honored the IRRI Seed System South Asia Team with a recognition for contributing and collaborating on research, technical support and capacity development for strengthening the rice seed sector. Dr. Nayak received the award from Md. Sayedul Islam, Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh & A F M Hayatullah, Chairman (Grade-1), BADC.

Several special guests also attended the event such as Dr. Md. Shahjahan Kabir, Director General, BRRI, Md. Benojir Alam, DG, DAE, Md. Ruhul Amin Talukder, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture.

In this workshop, A F M Hayatullah, Chairman (Grade-1), BADC was a session leader. In his closing remarks, he mentioned the importance of the BADC-IRRI research collaboration activities. He highlighted the need for a demand-driven approach together with technological intervention especially for BADC. He underlined the importance of training and capacity building of BADC staff as these are key to ensure that the models and practices developed by the scientists are being adopted. He also pointed out the need to improve irrigation facilities, and the benefits of adopting Alternate Wetting and Drying (AWD) as a water-saving technology intervention. Finally, he thanked all the participants, IRRI research team members, and other expert members.

Also Read: Arrival of soybean in Mandsour Mandi improves; average rate lower than last year but above MSP

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