Filipino Farmer Leaders Learn from Bt Brinjal Farmers in Bangladesh
Filipino farmer leaders participated in a two-day study visit to Bt brinjal (eggplant) farms in Bangladesh last February 23 to 26, 2016. Discussions on biotechnology regulations in Bangladesh, research and development of Bt brinjal, and farmer experiences on planting Bt brinjal were conducted with officials from the Bangladesh government and scientists from the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI). The activities included field visits to Bt brinjal planting sites, interactions with Bt brinjal farmers as well as Bt brinjal tasting. The activities were held in two villages in Bogra, Bangladesh.
Filipino farmers asked about the keys to success in the commercial approval and cultivation of Bt brinjal in Bangladesh. They also solicited insights and experiences that can help them communicate the plight of eggplant farmers in the Philippines to the government. Recently, the Philippine Supreme Court has permanently stopped the field trials of Bt eggplant, and nullified its operating regulations on research, field testing, commercialization, and importation of GM crops in the country.
The activity was the first interaction of foreign farmers with local Bangladeshi farmers and officials to share and learn from their Bt brinjal experience. Bangladesh released four varieties of Bt brinjal in October 2013. It significantly increased the marketable yield of brinjal fruits thereby mitigating losses caused by wastage of infested and damaged fruits. In just over a year, farmers have strongly accepted and have cultivated Bt brinjal. After the visit, the Filipino participants were further inspired to push for Bt technology in the Philippines as they were assured that the technology works and significantly benefits the farmers.
For more information about Bt eggplant in the Philippines, visit the website of the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture – Biotechnology Information Center or SEARCA BIC at www.bic.searca.org.
This article is part of the Crop Biotech Update, a weekly summary of world developments in agri-biotech for developing countries, produced by the Global Knowledge Center on Crop Biotechnology, International Service for the Aquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications SEAsiaCenter (ISAAA)