Sheikh Hasina has also praised existing collaboration between IRRI and BRRI
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has urged the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) to strengthen its collaboration with the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) to increase rice production in the country.
She made the call when IRRI Director General Dr Matthew Morell met her at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on Thursday.
The prime minister's Speech Writer Md Nazrul Islam briefed reporters after the meeting.
The prime minister stressed the need to strengthen research work to invent saline-, cold-, and draught-tolerant varieties of rice—on a large scale—and improve deep water rice varieties.
She emphasized the importance of increasing the capacities for producing rice in the country, continuously, as arable land is diminishing.
“Our farmers are very smart and quick learners. They can easily adopt technology,” Nazrul quoted the prime minister as saying.
Talking about crop patterns, Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh cultivates wheat, maize, pulse, and other crops that need less water, in the northern region.
She asked the authorities concerned to take steps to boost rice production in the southern region.
She stressed the need to increase the use of surface water and reduce dependence on underground water for irrigation; to protect the environment.
“So, the country’s water bodies—including rivers, canals, and beels—are being re-excavated for irrigation,” she said.
The prime minister praised the existing collaboration between IRRI and BRRI.
IRRI's director general said IRRI is keen to undertake a collaborative program with BRRI to increase rice production in Bangladesh.
Raising a 14-point action plan, designed by IRRI—under the collaborative program—he said if the action plan can be implemented, Bangladesh will be able to have high growth in rice production and sustain the country’s food security.
The action plans include: increasing production in Aush areas, inventing varieties of Aman crops, increasing Boro production overcoming stagnancy, making hybrid rice suitable for local environments through research, and introducing nutritious and healthy rice in Bangladesh.
The other action plans include: inventing cold-tolerant Boro variety for the Haor areas, protecting crops from flash floods, working on saline-tolerant varieties for coastal areas, overcoming harvesting and seed problems, enhancing mechanization to reduce production costs, inventing climate change-resistant varieties, shifting cropping patterns of the northern region to the southern regions, and disseminating of technology to farmers.
Dr Matthew said IRRI is interested in working on this action plan in partnership with BRRI.
The prime minister praised the action plan.
Agriculture Minister Dr Md Abdur Razzaque, Agriculture Secretary Md Nasiurzzaman, the Prime Minister’s International Affairs Advisor Dr Gowhar Rizvi, and PMO Secretary Sajjadul Hassan were present at the meeting.
BRRI Director General Dr Md Shahjahan Kabir, IRRI representative for South Asia Dr Nafees Meah, and IRRI representative for Bangladesh Dr Humnath Bhandari also attended the meeting.
The IRRI is an independent, non-profit, research institute founded in 1960. The Philippines-based institute has offices in 17 rice-growing countries—including Bangladesh—across Asia and Africa.