Bangladesh has called upon developing countries to increase mutual cooperation in research, innovation, and exchange of knowledge, to escalate agricultural production and transform the food system.
Agriculture minister Md Abdur Razzaque made the call virtually when attending a three-day food systems pre-summit session of the UN on "Using the Potential of Science to Transform the Food System" held in Rome, Italy, on Tuesday.
CGIAR, a forum of international agricultural research institutes, and the International Farmers' Organisation, jointly organised the event.
Addressing the event, Md Abdur Razzaque said Bangladesh is giving special importance to ensuring food and nutrition security. To tap the potential of science, it is providing all kinds of support, including an adequate budget allocation for research and innovation.
The country's research institutes have already developed many improved varieties of paddy, wheat, maize, fruits and vegetables, and technologies, he added.
Citing examples of rice variety innovation, the minister said Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) has developed more than 100 improved rice varieties. Of those, 26 varieties are tolerant and resistant to floods, drought, salinity and climate change.
Bangladesh Atomic Agriculture Research Institute-Bina and Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute-Bario have also developed multiple varieties of rice and other crops, resistant to climate change, he also said.
Furthermore, the country's scientists have invented the world's first zinc-rich rice variety, Razzaque added.
He said Bangladesh has been working closely with various CGIAR organizations, including IRRI, CIMMYT, WorldFish, IFPRI, and CIP, for the last 50 years.
Alongside the government's initiatives, joint cooperation and efforts are needed at the regional and international levels to address various challenges, including climate change, growing food demand, and the ongoing Covid pandemic. Developing countries in particular need to increase mutual cooperation and work in unison.
Ethiopia's Minister of State for Agriculture, Fikru Regassa, Mexico's Secretary of Agriculture, Victor Villalobos, CGIAR Managing Director Claudia Sadoff, Secretary-General of the World Farmers' Organisation, (WFO) Arianna Giuliodori, and 2021 World Food Prize winner, Shakuntala Thilsted, also spoke.
The pre-conference, with the participation of 145 countries, is being held ahead of the UN's "Food Summit 2021" scheduled for next September. The conference will end on 28 July.