Agriculture Minister Md Abdur Razzak has called upon the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) scientists to boost rice production by developing better varieties, and work towards improving the farmers' standard of living.
He also put emphasis on increasing cropping intensity, better rice processing and firm mechanisation, and developing healthier rice for fulfilling export demand.
Speaking at a workshop of the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) on Thursday, he added that the varieties developed by BRRI and its scientists have played a crucial role in transforming Bangladesh from a country of food shortages and hunger to a self-sufficient nation.
Razzak – at the event titled Annual Research Review Workshop 2019-20 held in Gazipur – said, "However, the future of our food security faces a major challenge, as the country's population is increasing by 22-23 lakh annually, but arable land is shrinking due to various reasons.
"Under such circumstances, emphasis must be given on developing better varieties of paddy and related technology so that the crop's production can be doubled by 2030."
Adding that the price of rice is a bit high this year, the minister said, "The price went up mainly due to crops damaged by natural disasters. Despite this situation, the government organised an open market sale of rice at Tk10 per kg to nearly 50 lakh families.
"The government has also imported some rice from abroad, and it remains vigilant so that the price of rice does not drop too much because of imports."
Speaking about more than a hundred varieties of paddy developed by BRRI, the minister said, "All agencies must make a concerted effort to popularise the best of these varieties among farmers, and make it easier for them to access such varieties."
Commenting about statistical data about agriculture, Razzak said, "The data of the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics and Department of Agricultural Extension do not match. The statistical data collected by the department should be cross-checked to verify whether it represents the real facts about crop production at the field level."
The minister then directed the BRRI, ministries and other agencies concerned to cross-check the production data.
Speaking about BRRI's successes and future plans, its Director General Md Shahjahan Kabir said, "The BRRI has so far developed 105 high-yielding varieties and 250 related technologies. We achieved remarkable success in research during the tenure of this government.
"During this period, the BRRI developed 54 varieties of paddy and 200 related technology."
Gazipur City Corporation Mayor Jahangir Alam, Bangladesh Agricultural University Professor Emeritus MA Sattar Mandal, Department of Agricultural Extension's Director General Md Asadullah, former director general Md Hamidur Rahman were present at the event.
The programme was also attended by Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute's Director General Md Nazirul Islam, International Rice Research Institute's Bangladesh Representative Dr Humnath Bhandari and Food and Agriculture Organisation Representative in Bangladesh Robert D Simpson.