The government plans to introduce a coldtolerant variety of Boro paddy to avoid crop damage by erratic weather.
This particular variety, tolerant to cold conditions both at the seedling and reproductive stages, can be introduced within two years, said Dr Jibon Krishna Biswas, director general of Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI).
“We are now running trials, and once we get successful results, we will apply for its commercial release.”
He said the government had been trying to develop crop varieties tolerant of extreme climatic events to ensure steady food production.
As a part of that initiative, BRRI has been working on cold-tolerant Boro because a large number of rice farmers suffer significant losses every year as none of the existing varieties can cope with extreme cold. Though a winter crop, Boro is often affected by cold-related diseases at the seedling and reproductive stages.
Paddy farmers in haor (wetland) areas usually face more problems than do others, as they only cultivate Boro and start the cultivation process in January – a month ahead of the rest of the country.
“Since January is the coldest month in Bangladesh, the haor farmers often have to tackle cold-related diseases affecting their crops. They will be particularly benefited by this new paddy variety,” the BRRI DG told the Dhaka Tribune.
The BRRI previously developed another cold-tolerant Boro variety named BRRI 36, but its cold tolerance is very low.
Boro is the most produced paddy in the country accounting for a production of almost 19 million tonnes out of 34.6 million tonnes produced in Bangladesh in 2013-14.
The BRRI also released two saline tolerant varieties and two submergence tolerant varieties of paddy in 2010, and in 2012 the state-run rice research organisation released two drought tolerant varieties.
In addition to these varieties, the BRRI also released eight more varieties between 2009 and 2013 which are currently being popularised among farmers.