Highlighting how quality seeds were still expensive, researchers called for automating the rice variety release process to help reduce the cost.
"Over the years, Bangladesh has developed modern and high-yielding rice varieties, fast-tracked the adoption of high-yielding rice varieties by farmers, and the rapid expansion of irrigation infrastructure. Automating the seed certification system will build upon these successes," said Dr Sirajul Islam, chief of party at Irri Bangladesh, at a workshop on Wednesday in Gazipur, Bangladesh.
"The automation seeks to consider the best practices which reduce time, cost, and complexities of the rice variety registration," he said at the workshop conducted by the International Rice Research Institute (Irri) Bangladesh and the Seed Certification Agency (SCA) under the USAID Funded FtF Bangladesh Irri Rice Breeding Public Private Partnership Platform Activity.
Dr Mohammad Rafiqul Islam, project lead of IRRI said, "Automation process for variety registration and seed release process is a dire need now. It will reduce the time required, shorten the complex registration process and enhance efficiency.
"This is also related to seed import permission (IP). If seed certification automation can be done, the IP process can be enhanced and harmonised with quarantine applications," he added.
Farmers mostly depend on the sources of rice seeds from public and private sectors. At the same time, the private sector faces challenges in registering rice seed varieties -- such as the lengthy process, complexities of the system, and the uncompetitive cost of doing business.
Due to these limitations, the contribution of the private sector in rice seed release was 10.81% to 10.84% between 2014 to 2019, which reflects that the growth was almost stagnant, said a press release from Irri Bangladesh.
Speakers participating in the workshop recommended building a digital platform that will ease the registration process. They also emphasised the importance of establishing an information technology department at SCA and the provision of stable job placement of SCA officials.
Dr Md Sahjahan Kabir, director general of Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI), joined the event as the chief guest.
Dr Mohammad Khalequzzaman, director of research of BRRI, and Dr Mohammad Rafiqul Islam, project lead of IRRI, were present as special guests. Dr Muhammad Emdadul Haque, director in charge of the Seed Certification Agency, chaired the workshop.