Bangladesh ag minister hopes for 'new era of collaboration' for rice sector

by Holly Demaree
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Bangladesh Ag Minister at IRRI
In partnership with IRRI, both will work to cope with the effects of climate change and degradation of natural resources.
Photo courtesy of IRRI.
 
LOS BAÑOS, THE PHILIPPINES – Enhancing practical farmer knowledge, climate change mitigation strategies, and improving farm productivity for the Bangladesh rice sector were the focus of the visit of Bangladesh Agriculture Minister H.E. Begum Matia Chowdhury to the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) headquarters.

The minister’s visit to IRRI is part of the minister’s efforts to help the Bangladesh rice sector cope with the drastic effects of climate change and degradation of natural resources through the institute’s advanced agricultural technologies and innovative farming approaches.

“The purposeful investment in agricultural research and development is a high priority of the Bangladesh government to achieve sustainable and inclusive development,” said Matia Chowdhury. “We hope that IRRI will continue to provide the technical support we need through collaborative programs for our vision of a food- and nutrition-secure future.” 

The past several years showed an improvement in rice production in Bangladesh. However, the IRRI noted that in 2017, three episodes of severe flash floods have ravaged large agricultural areas of the country, particularly in the northern districts. At least 8 million people and around 8,000 hectares of paddy have been affected, leading to food shortage and hiked rice prices over the past few months.

Matia Chowdhury and the rest of the Bangladesh delegation went around the institute’s facilities and interacted with IRRI staff to learn more about the development and deployment of climate change-resilient rice varieties, remote-sensing and drone technology, improved natural resource management practices, grain quality and nutrition, and capacity-building programs. Bangladesh’s ag minister was interested during the visit to the C4 rice screenhouse and had a fruitful discussion on the future prospects of the C4 rice project.

IRRI Director General Dr. Matthew Morell said that the institute will continue to work with the Bangladesh government to ensure collaborative and responsive programs for the rice sector are in place to meet the current and future needs of the country’s rice industry, particularly for the vulnerable farmers and consumers.

“IRRI is deliberately strengthening our presence in the South Asian region by closely working with our partners in determining how IRRI’s research initiatives can best fit with the priorities of the government,” Morell said.

The partnership between Bangladesh and IRRI started in 1965 when 303 rice varieties were tested in the country. Ongoing initiatives in the country have focused on conserving rice genetic diversity, improving rice varieties and resource management practices, and enhancing capacity-building programs for farmers and national agricultural extension and research staff.
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