The government aims to increase rice yield to 47 million tons by 2030 and 54 million tons by 2040
Bangladesh aims at doubling its rice productivity by the year 2050 and has just chalked out a detailed strategy paper, drawing plans for growing more food for an increasing population and producing some exportable surplus.
Bangladesh Rice Research Institute Director General Dr Md Shahjahan Kabir presented the strategy paper, “Doubling Rice Productivity in Bangladesh”, before a full-house audience at a city hotel yesterday.
The event took place at a time when Bangladesh requires to import a huge volume of rice despite having a good domestic crop year. Ministers attending the program stressed a debunking of the puzzle relating to the shortfall in a year when domestic rice production was estimated to be higher than in previous years.
Agriculture Minister Dr Md Abdur Razzaque and State Minister for Planning Dr Shamsul Alam were joined by several hundred agricultural scientists, breeders, extension workers, economists and academics at the program, where a book on the topic was also unveiled.
Embarking on a multipronged approach of genetic gains, area expansion and better crop management the government wants to increase rice yield from over 38 million tons now to 47 million tons by 2030 and 54 million tons by 2040 and over 60 million tons by 2050.
The discussants also reminded the rice scientists of the need to try to release some of the rice lands by achieving higher per unit rice productivity so that other crops could be grown.
Currently, as much as 78% of Bangladesh’s total arable land is occupied by rice cultivation, resulting in very little land left for growing other crops and thereby Bangladesh remains import-dependent for varieties of other crops like wheat, maize, oilseeds and spices.
Agriculture Minister Dr Md Abdur Razzaque stressed more value addition in agro-products and greater participation and investment from the private sector. He said Vietnam’s export earnings from agro-based products had reached 40 billion dollars, which was at least eight times higher than those of Bangladesh.
State Minister for Planning Dr Shamsul Alam emphasized attaining higher productivity in rice. He came up with statistics that show Bangladesh’s per unit rice productivity is much lower compared to those of China, Japan and Vietnam.
He said each year farmers in Bangladesh were losing croplands at a rate of 0.8% while 2.2 million people were added to the population, who needed to be fed. He stressed better crop management so that more rice could be grown from less land.
Representatives from NARS institutes (national agriculture research system) i.e., BRRI, BARI, BARC, DAE and academics and representatives of International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) spoke, among others, at the discussion chaired by the secretary of the agriculture ministry.
The discussants emphasized ensuring fair prices for agricultural produce.
They were also critical of Bangladesh’s regulatory inertia in releasing nutritionally rich Golden Rice and other biotech-derived crops.