RANGPUR, Bangladesh, Jan 8 (BSS) - Successful farming of the flood tolerant variety paddies in recent years have ushered a new era in the country's agriculture sector to produce an additional 60 lakh tonnes paddy annually and ensure food security, rice- scientists said.
The farmers have already completed harvest of the flood tolerant paddies in six northern districts this season and got excellent yields in between 4.0 and 4.5 tonnes paddy per hectare even after 16 days submergence during the last flash floods.
However, the flood-tolerant paddy fields, which remained submerged for 17 to 23 days, yielded only 2.5 and 3 tonnes paddy per hectare, Principal Scientific Officer and Head of Rangpur Regional Research Station of BRRI Dr Abdul Jalil Mridha told BSS today.
Under the assistance of Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) and eight NGOs, 960 farmers cultivated the submergence paddies in 64 hectares in Rangpur, Lalmonirhat, Kurigram, Gaibandha, Nilphamari and Sirajganj this year.
Director General (DG) of International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) Dr Robert S Zeigler during his recent visits here observed the tremendous successes achieved in farming flood tolerant variety paddies in northern Bangladesh.
He highly lauded the ongoing joint collaboration of IRRI with Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) under the assistance of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in conducting research and popularizing cultivation of the flood tolerant variety paddies through GO-NGO collaborations.
During the two-day visits, the DG expressed his full satisfaction and said the success in farming flood tolerant variety paddies will definitely ensure food security of Bangladesh and turning it into a food-exporting nation in near future.
Dr Zeigler made these comments in presence of renowned rice- scientists while visiting flood tolerant variety ripe paddy fields, exchanging views, addressing farmers' gatherings and the paddy cutting ceremonies in Rangpur and Kurigram.
He put special emphasis on extensive research and suggested the farmers to make their children educated in agriculture science for innovating newer technologies fit for the next centuries to meet food demand of the whole mankind.
Observing tremendous field level successes in farming flood tolerant paddies since 2006 in Bangladesh, Dr Zeigler hoped that Bangladesh government would soon approve the paddy seeds to make those easily available to the farmers for large-scale farming.
Programme Leader and Plant Breeder of IRRI Dr David J Mackill, Director (Training) Dr. Noel P Magor, IRRI Liaison Scientist for Bangladesh Dr MA Hamid Mian, Regional Coordinator of Stress Tolerant Rice for Poor Farmers in Africa & South Asia (STRASA) programme Dr US Singh, accompanied him.
Consultant of STRASA Dr MA Bari, Chief Scientific Officer and Head of Genetic Resource Division of BRRI Dr Khairul Basher, former CSO and Head of Agronomy Division of BRRI and Dinajpur Hub manager of CSISA Dr MA Mazid, Dr Abdul Jalil Mridha, were present.
The DG visited flood tolerant Swarna Sub1, BR11 Sub1, IR64 Sub1 and Sambamasuri Sub1 variety paddy fields at villages of Kachir Char, Belgachha and Jatrapur in Kurigram and Darshona in Rangpur.
He attended crop cutting ceremony in the field of farmer Manik Mian in Darshona village in Sadar upazila of Rangpur where the farmer got 4.3 tonnes paddy per hectare of flood tolerant Swarna Sub1 variety.
Farmer Jitendra Nath Sarker of Kurigram narrated him that Swarna Sub1 paddy sustained submergence stresses for 14 days on 52 decimal lands and 17 days in another land during recent floods and later grew well to yield 4.5 tonnes dry paddy per hectare.
Farmer Yakub Ali said the DG of IRRI that he cultivated all four submergence entries of Swarna Sub1, BR11 Sub1, IR64 Sub1 and Sambamasuri Sub1 in his four acres land in village Kachir Char in Kurigram and got excellent yields.
Farmers Yasin Ali, Osman Goni, Mosharraf Hossain, Badsha Mian, Shahinur Islam, Syed Ali, Shahidul, Yakub Ali and Nuruzzaman told to the IRRI DG that they were happy getting paddy harvests even after 14 to 17 days submergence during last flash floods.
Dr Zeigler said the huge success was achieved through joint collaboration, efforts and research of the scientists of IRRI and BRRI and that he learnt a lot from the successful farmers at the field levels in Bangladesh.
"We have already achieved success in evolving flood, salinity and drought tolerant paddies and are continuing research works for inventing multiple stress tolerant genes which can evolve newer paddy to sustain saline and flood stresses at a time," he added.
DR Mazid, pioneer of farming flood tolerant paddies at field levels in Bangladesh, said large-scale farming of the paddies in 12 lakh hectares potential flood-prone land can produce additional six million tonnes paddy annually to ensure country's food security.