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Matia stresses Bangladesh-Australia cooperation in agriculture

  • Published at 04:13 pm July 29th, 2018
File photo of Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury Dhaka Tribune

'There is scope for further productivity gain with genetic manipulation through increasing photosynthetic efficiency of major crops which will require support of international science'

Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury on Sunday emphasized on exchange of genetic resources between Bangladesh and Australia for developing stress tolerant varieties of different crops.

Addressing a workshop at Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (Barc), the minister welcomed a joint effort of Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and Bangladesh’s Krishi Gobeshona Foundation (KGF) and national agricultural research system (Nars) in developing stress tolerant varieties, particularly of pulses and oilseeds as Bangladesh is running deficit in their production, reports UNB.

KGF organized the workshop titled “Promoting pulses, oilseeds, maize and other crops in stress-prone areas in Bangladesh.”

Matia Chowdhury thanked ACIAR for the useful cooperation extended by the Australian government and also thanked KGF for accelerating cooperation in agro-science.

The agriculture minister said: “Considering the recent development process of expansion of industries in the north we need to develop agriculture in the potential region in the south which was once known as granary of Bangladesh. With the constraints with tidal water along with salinity, we need to develop sustainable production system with profitable farming options.

“There is scope for further productivity gain with genetic manipulation through increasing photosynthetic efficiency of major crops which will require support of international science.”

She said recent climate events like flash floods are damaging crops in Haor region. “Short duration and early maturing and cold tolerant cropping options remain a solution in those areas. The northwestern drought prone areas have different ecology that requires attention of water saving farming system.”

She also said that the use of modern technologies like nanotechnology, GMO, hybrid, growing more crops with less input, conservation and precision agriculture, conserving soil health and natural resources have been given adequate attention in the just formulated National Agricultural Policy 2018.

In a keynote presentation, Chief Executive Officer of Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), Prof Andrew Campbell said: “Australia (through ACIAR) has been working in Bangladesh for over 20 years - this region is crucial for global food security and a high priority for ACIAR.”

KGF Executive Director Dr Wais Kabir made welcome remarks. Senior Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Mohammad Moinuddin Abdullah, Australian High Commissioner to Bangladesh, Julia Niblett,  ACIAR Regional Manager for South Asia, Dr Protibha Singh also spoke with Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (Barc) Executive Chairman Dr Md Kabir Ikramul Haque in the chair.

Emeritus Professor Dr M A Sattar Mandal chaired the review session and panel discussion with Murdoch University, Australia, Prof Richard W Bell presenting speech on conservation agriculture, Dr Mohammed Mainuddin of Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia, presented a speech on cropping system intensification and Prof W Erskine of University of Western Australia presented deliberation on salt tolerant wheat and pulses.

ACIAR is an independent statutory authority in Australia. It operates in over 30 countries in the Indo-Pacific region investing 110 million dollars in farm researches in 2017-18 with 15% of its research portfolios concentrating in South Asia including Bangladesh.

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