There is no alternative to using biotechnology in agriculture when it comes to boosting food production for a growing population against a gradual fall in arable land, said Agriculture Minister Dr Abdur Razzak.
There is no denying the fact that biotechnology has played an important role in changing present agricultural practices by increasing yield, making plants and animals resistant to certain pests and diseases, he said.
The minister made the comments at the "4th Innovation in Plant and Food Sciences-International Conference of Biotechnology on Health and Agriculture 2019", at the Nawab Nawab Ali Chowdhury Senate Bhaban of Dhaka University on Monday.
USA has remained as the top producer of biotech crops globally, covering 50% of the global biotech crop plantings, said the minister.
Other countries across the world, including China, Argentina, Canada and Brazil are showing great interest in growing biotech crops, he said.
Biotechnology can help produce drought and salt tolerant crops, increase yield, preserve traditional genotypes of plants, and develop disease-free crops to combat fungal and other plant pathogens, the minister pointed out.
Dr Wais Kabir, executive director of the Krishi Gobeshona Foundation; Dr Md Imdadul Hoque, dean of the biological sciences faculty at Dhaka University; Dr Amran Kabir Chowdhury, vice-chancellor of Cumilla University, were present at the programme as special guests, with Dhaka University Vice-Chancellor Professor Dr Akhtaruzzaman in the chair.
The speakers said agricultural production has increased many fold in the country in recent years, and there is no alternative to using upgraded technology to maintain this development.
Bangladesh has been able to develop high-yielding, disease resistant crops through hybridisation methods, they told the conference.
Through the cultivation of first genetically modified (GM) Bt Brinjal, Bangladesh has joined a group of 29 countries that grow GM crops.
Bangladesh is now using the technology to develop new varieties of tomatoes and cotton, the speakers added.