Crop Biotech Update

Bangladesh Breeds for Stress Tolerant and Nutritious Rice Through Biotech

December 10, 2010

The Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) and Bangladesh Institute of Nuclear Agriculture (BINA) in collaboration with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) have successfully developed salinity, drought, submergence, and cold tolerant rice varieties for combating the perennial natural calamities. BR-47, BR-51, BR-52, BR-53, BR-29 sub1, BR-51-sub1, BINAdhan-7, BINAdhan-9 are the elite varieties grown by the farmers for different stress tolerance characteristics. The BRRI so far developed 57 high yielding rice varieties and 4 hybrid varieties which produces 2-3 times more than the conventional counterparts. Moreover, Bangladesh is producing around 40 million tonnes annually on its shrinking land which is more than double the yield 40 years back.

The country was feeding less than half of its population in 1970 when BRRI was established in Bangladesh to work along with IRRI, the scientists said in a press conference at the National Press Club on 28 November 2010. The scientists also revealed that collaborative research activities are in progress with IRRI on biofortification of rice enriched with vitamin A, zinc, iron (Fe), and other micronutrients, to supply nutrition to the majority of the people in Bangladesh who are eating substantial amount of rice in their daily diets. In particular,  BRRI scientists also made transgenic Golden Rice using the leading BR-29 varieties in collaboration with IRRI which was brought back to Bangladesh in 2005 for glasshouse and field trial.

The second generation Golden Rice is planned to be tested both in the glasshouse and field  trials this winter season. With the continued research and development of biotech and breeding activities, Bangladesh hopes to solve the national marginal food gap and nutritional deficiencies in the near term.

For more on this news, contact Prof Dr KM Nasiruddin of Bangladesh Biotechnology Information Center at nasirbiotech@yahoo.com.