This page features a compilation and selection of Bangladesh seed industry news briefs, summaries and leads, with an emphasis on events that impact or affect provinces, regions, counties, cities and locales in Bangladesh.
The news covers trends and events regarding seed regulation, testing, legislation, phytosanitary issues, intellectual property rights, biotechnology (genomics, gene-editing) plant breeding, agronomy and cropping, with original sources linked.
This page will be updated throughout the year, with most recent briefs listed first.
Relief potatoes urged as surplus coincides with low prices: Aug 23: In letters issued by the agriculture ministry to the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief, NGO Affairs Bureau and Office of the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner, it is being urged to include potatoes in disaster relief packages, citing a surplus of the tuber vegetable. According to data cited from from the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) and Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), farmers produced more than 10 million tonnes of potato this year, an increase from about 9.6 million tonnes in 2020. The surplus is linked to falling prices. The price of potato offered at cold storage gates in Joypurhat, one of the main potato producing districts in the north, was reportedly only Tk 12 per kilogramme. This is compared to the production cost cited at Tk 17.5 per kg. Low prices have led growers to store 5.5 million tonnes of potato this year for later selling, according to the Bangladesh Cold Storage Association (BCSA). See original story here.
Jute exports up as production falls short of expectation: Aug 23: Despite a record turnover in FY 2020-2021 from the export of jute fiber products, farmers are reportedly growing disinterested in the cultivation of the crop. Even as exports grow, production is declining. According to a report, Bangladesh exports 282 jute and jute-based goods to around 135 countries around the globe, and FY 2020-2021 saw a 31% year on year increase. Data from the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) shows that Bangladesh had set an annual target to produce 8.2 million tonnes, but finally only 7.4 million tonnes were produced. This is compared to FY 2018-2019 season, when Bangladesh grew 8.5 million tonnes, and 8 million tonnes in FY 2019-20. Department officials are optimistic that the jute cultivation will reach 86 lakh tonnes in FY2021-22 if the weather permits.Most of the crop is cultivated in Faridpur, Jashore, Sirajganj, Bogura, Tangail, Jamalpur and Dhaka districts, and the country depends on the import of around 4,500 tonnes of seeds from India every year. The country aims to become seed-self sufficient in jute seeds by 2026. More details here.
Lockdowns, bad weather stressing vegetable farmers: August 10: Excessive rains and lockdown restrictions are causing stress and concern for vegetable farmers in the marshland areas of Nazirpur and Nesarabad upazilas, as well as Barishal's Banaripara upazila. These farmers grow different varieties of vegetable saplings like beans, bitter gourd, papaya, brinjal, pumpkin, tomato and chilli on floating seed-beds, locally known as Dhap, made with water hyacinth. However, it has been a challenge to get their produce to consumers due to the closure of local markets and the lack of wholesale buyers from other parts of the country, citing movement and mobility issues. To make matters worse, excessive rains have been blamed on the damage of vegetable seedlings. See original story here
BINA awarded for nuclear breeding: Aug 2: Dr Shamsun Nahar Begum, chief scientific officer of the Bangladesh Institute of Nuclear Agriculture (BINA), has been honored with the "Women in Plant Mutation Breeding Award” by the the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has also recognized BINA, a research organization under the Agriculture Ministry, with the "Outstanding Achievement Award". The awards will be formally conferred at the 65th General Conference of the IAEA in September to recognise contributions to plant mutation breeding and related biotechnology. The accolades recognize BINA and their CSO for developing and releasing 112 modern varieties of 18 important crops by using nuclear techniques. Find out more here.
Bagerhat crops destroyed by excessive rain: August 2: Excessive rain at the end of July wreaked havoc on cropland in Bagerhat, causing damage to seedbeds, Aman paddy, vegetables, betel leaf and other crops. According to a figure cited from the Department of Agriculture and Bagerhat Department of Agricultural Extension., crop damages have reached Tk 56.5 million (US$662,000), affecting 1,588 hectares of Aman seedbeds in the district. See original story here.
Kurigram, Lalmonirhat paddy farmers distressed by rain shortage: July 23: Aman paddy farmers in Kurigram and Lalmonirhat were in distress by a lack of rainfall to nourish their rain-fed crop. It was also reported that farmers were incurring extra expense to irrigate their land using diesel-powered machines. According to a target of the Department of Agricultural Extension,Aman paddy was aimed to be sown on 119,000 hectares in Kurigram and 85,515 ha in Lalmonirhat, which prompted farmers to prepare seedbeds on 7,420 ha and 4,448 ha of land, respectively. However, only 10% of the required rainfall was recorded in the first part of July. See full story here.
Salt-tolerant vegetable crop seeds for coast farmers: July 26: Some 10,000 farmers in Bangladesh are being trained in saline agriculture by Bangladesh Cordaid. The farmers are learning how to grow salt-tolerant crops on land that has been damaged by saltwater. The initiative dates back to 2015, when ICCO (now part of Cordaid) “invited Salt Farm Texel to investigate the possibilities of introducing salt-tolerant crops in Bangladesh, including “natural variants” of crops that are adapted to saline conditions, including carrots, potatoes, kohlrabi, cabbage and beets. The Salt Solution and COASTS projects, made possible by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency, a public-private partnership amongst Lal Teer Seeds Ltd, Soil Resource Development Institute of the Bangladesh Ministry of Agriculture, Bangladesh Agricultural University and Cordaid. According to a press release, “The next step is to make salt-tolerant seeds widely available so that farmers can buy these seeds on the market. For this, Cordaid works together with the local seed company Lal Teer. Previously, seeds were imported from the Netherlands. However, this is very expensive and time-consuming. To ensure that the salt-tolerant crops remain available after the project ends, Lal Teer is now investigating which seeds they can develop for the market. Full details here.
Modern plant breeding to the rescue: Jul 24: Bangladeshi government and research institutes are working together to develop new crop varieties using modern agriculture techniques. According to one article, various initiatives by and amongst the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI), Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI), Bangladesh Institute of Nuclear Research (BINA), Bangladesh Jute Research Institute (BJRI), and Bangladesh Sugar crop Research Institute (BSRI) have seen breeding breakthroughs resulting in new disease-resistant, high-yielding, nutritious and climate resilient cultivars of rice, maize and various types of fruits vegetables with high proteins, vitamins or other essential nutrients, resistant to different diseases, salinity and drought. To learn more, see article here.
Vegetable exports, production surge: June 30: The month of April was a strong month for Bangladeshi vegetable exporters. Citing data from the Ministry of Agriculture, an article notes that Bangladesh exported $180 million worth of various types of vegetables that month, which is compared to $164 million in April 2020. This included more than 70 types of vegetables, which were exported to 53 countries. Aside from Asia, there was reportedly strong demand in Europe, where vegetable prices were increasing. Another important data point cited in the article is that 28 million tons of vegetables were being produced across Bangladesh, which represents a 37% increase in the past decade.
Cooperation for zinc-fortified rice: June 30: A news release details a project led by HarvestPlus, who has linked up with World Vision Bangladesh and Nutrition International to promote the cultivation and consumption of biofortified zinc rice. The project,
Global A airs Canada funded ENRICH (Enhancing Nutrition Services to Improve Maternal and Child Health in Africa and Asia) project has seen the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) developing and releasing the first biofortified zinc rice in the world. Biofortication involves conventional breeding using at least one of the parents that naturally contains higher amounts of a micronutrient of interest, to produce staple crops with desirable nutrient and agronomic traits. HarvestPlus is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH) and is based at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). More details here.
BSA honors Father of Hybrid Rice: June 17: Following the passing on May 22 of legendary Chinese rice scientist and agronomist, Professor Yuan Longping, father of the hybrid rice, the Bangladesh Seed Association organized a webinar commemorating the late scientist’s contribution to world agriculture and food security. The webinar was presided over by Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming, and chaired bby BSA President Abdul Awal Mintoo and several other seed industry representatives from both China and Bangladesh. Full details here. Watch, download the webinar here.
Two new bean varieties developed: May 20: Two new varieties of bean have been developed by scientists at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Agricultural University (BSMRAU). A result of more than eight years of research, both varieties are unique in terms of shape, size, yield, color, texture, taste and nutritional value. The two bean varieties can be cultivated as field crops without trellises or stakes due to their short height, and are suitable for cultivation all over Bangladesh, according to BSMRAU Vice-Chancellor Professor Dr Md. Giashuddin Miah. The varieties are also suitable for cultivation in pots and will be ideal for growing in home gardens and rooftops in urban areas. Original story in Bengali here
Optimistic about basin lowland boro paddy: May 19: Trials of Chinese and irrigation-dependent cultivars of paddy (boro) all along the Brahmaputra, Dudhkumar and Gangadhar rivers are looking promising. According to the Upazila Agriculture Office, this time, with demand for this special rice on the up. Yields are reported to be between four to five maunds (150-186kg) per bigha (about 1,337.8 sq. meters). More details in Bengali here.
Farmers get seed, fertilizer subsidy relief: Bengali media in April and May has reported on the extensive efforts by the Bangladeshi government to provide Covid-19 relief to farmers in the form of subsidized and free seeds and fertilizer, initiated by the directive of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to strengthen food security. Reported May 19, politician Nurunnabi Chowdhury Shaon led door-to-door delivery of vegetable seeds to some 500 farmers of Dhaligaurnagar and Charbhuta Unions. See original news here. Similar relief efforts were also reported on April 29: some 3,600 farmers in the Chuadanga district of the western Khulna Division of Bangladesh were provided with “incentive” seeds and fertilizers for the kharif planting season. Distributed at the behest of a local official at the Sadar Upazila, kits for each farmer contained 5 kg of paddy seed, 10 kg of potassium chloride (MOP) and 20 kg of Diammonium phosphate (DAP) fertilizer. See news here. This follows the distribution of seed and fertilizer to 400 farmers in the Lahmichari upazila of the Khagrachhari district in Chittagong Division, South eastern Bangladesh. News here. Likewise, according to an April 25 report, free fertilizer and seeds of various types of crops were delivered to some 1,500 farmers of the upazila of Satkhira District in the Division of Khulna. News here.
Seed saving village: May 14: A farmer in Satkhira District was awarded the Bangabandhu National Agriculture Award in recognition of their efforts in indigenous seed conservation. Alpana Rani Mistry from Dhumghat Village started a local seed bank that now contains over 400 varieties of vegetables and medicinal herb seeds, many on the verge of extinction. Seeds are stored using traditional methods that do not require the use of pesticides, and crops are grown using organic methods. Awareness of the need to preserve local varieties is spreading among other farmers, who have also revived the tradition of seed exchanging. Providing seeds to those in need and taking seeds in payment for other types of seeds. Original story in Bengali
Onion seed black gold in Faridpur: April 25: Onion seeds are being likened to “black gold” in the district of Faridpur, where farmers are reaping a bumper harvest and high returns. At this time, onion seed farmers in Ambikapur and Ishan Gopalpur Union of Faridpur Sadar Upazila are enthusiastically harvesting seeds from their fields. According to the Faridpur Agriculture Department, onion seeds have been cultivated in 1,650 hectares of land in the region this season, with an expected output of 1,056 metric tons of seed. The market is estimated to be worth Rs 500 crore. An estimated 80% of the total onion seeds supplied to the Bangladesh Agriculture Development Corporation (BADC) were collected from Faridpur Harij Mollah, Julekha Begum, Fatema Khanam and many others in Gobindpur. See original story here, as well as here.
Bumper paddy harvest at Tambulkhana Seed Farm: April 21: A paddy seed farmer in Faridpur expects a bumper harvest for its early-maturing, high yielding variety. Starting April 16, the paddy was threshed using a combined harvester, which reduces damage, time and cost of harvest. The paddy was planted at the Tambulkhana Seed Production Farm between December 26 to 31 last year for the production of seed. According to the Tambulkhana Seed Production Farm, 33 metric tons of seeds will be produced from the crop sown on 21 acres this season. See original story here.
Incentive seeds seized from black market: April 21-22: A shop owner in Bahubale in the Habiganj district, was fined Tk 20,000 ($237) for allegedly purchasing government incentive seeds, which are not intended for sale. News here. The news follows reports of authorities in Naogaon recovering 125 sacks of agricultural incentives, including fertilizer and seeds, suspected to be stored for sale on the black market. The seized inputs, which were recovered from a house in Barakai village of Manda upazila, included 48 sacks of DAP, 21 MOP (potash) and 8 sacks of rice seeds. This year, 1,800 small and marginal farmers in 14 unions of the upazila due to get such incentives. The Upazila Agriculture Department is investigating the incident. News here. Similarly, incentive seeds and fertilizer were also seized in Mymensingh's Dhobaura, where smuggling suspects were detained. The seeds and fertilizer were originally distributed among 110 farmers of Dhobaura Sadar Union, each given 5 kg seed paddy and 30 kg fertilizer of two types. Later, three rickshaws loaded with fertilizer and seeds were intercepted by officials, who found 36 packets (10 kg per packet) of seed paddy and 26 sacks of fertilizer bound for the market. The recovered paddy seeds were to be distributed among at least 72 farmers. 36 farmers received 28 sacks of fertilizer, while officials continue their investigation. Story here.
Turning to veg seed farming in Jivannagar: April 19: Seed farmers in Chuadanga's Jivannagar Upazila are increasingly shifting from growing conventional vegetables to seed farming due to better returns, especially through cultivating seeds of various varieties of red spinach. High yielding varieties of red spinach have been planted in 120 hectares of land in Abdulbaria, Dehati, Kashipur, Anantapur, Nishchintapur, Purandapur, Banka and Muktarpur villages of the upazila. From land preparation to seed collection, the cost per acre of land is reportedly between 8 to 10 thousand rupees. After deducting expenses, the profit per bigha of land is between Rs 20,000 to Rs 30,000. Original story here.
Women onion seed farmer a national model: March 29: A veteren women onion seed farmer from Faridpur, Shahida Begum, has been lauded as a model seed farmer. Based in the Gobindapur village of Sadar upazila, the farmer last year reportedly earned millions supplying farmers all over Bangladesh with some 200 maunds of various popular varieties of onion seed. Onion seeds have been planted in 1,611 hectares of land in Faridpur district this year. From this, 1,026 metric tons of seeds are expected to be produced. A quarter of these will come from Shahida. See original story here, as well as here.
Subsidized seed assistance for paddy farmers: March 29: In order to increase paddy production, the government will provide farmers with more than Tk 21.5 million ($254,754) in seed assistance. The seeds, produced by the Bangladesh Agriculture Development Corporation (BADC) will be sold to farmers level at subsdized rates of between Tk 10 to 46 per kg. Seeds can also be sold at subsidized rates from BADC's District-Upazila Seed Sales Centers. Original news here.
Naogaon farmers switch to onion seeds: March 26: Farmers in Naogaon have high hopes in growing onion seeds. Interest in onion seed cultivation has increased with rising prices this year, prompting many farmers in the district to switch from other crops such as jute, maize and vegetables. According to the District Agriculture Extension Department, onion seeds were planted in 14.73 hectares of land in the district this year. In Manda, seeds were planted in 10 hectares of land, including in Shiata, Gangarampur, Chakuli, Kashopara and Satbaria. Last year, seeds were sold at Rs 4,000 to Rs 5,000 per kg. See original story here.
BRRI is top South Asian ‘Food Security Think Tank’: The Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) was rated 16th out of a total 136 research institutes in the world recognized in the 2020 Top Food Security Think Tanks category of the 2020 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report. Thus, BRRI was the top South Asian institute in this category; second in Asia after 15th placed Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) and third in the Asia-Pacific region, behind CAAS and 12th placed Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI). The top institute on the global list was the French Agricultural Research for Development. Thes survey, conducted by the Lauder Institute of the University of Pennsylvania in the United States, “has earned the reputation of being at the forefront of research in food security and policymaking in South Asia.” The University of Pennsylvania's Think Tanks and Civil Society Program (TTCSP) released the results of the study on January 26. In the same list, India’s International Crop Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) is 29th, Center for Policy Dialogue or CPD of Bangladesh is 35th, and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines is 59th. The Think Tank and Civil Society Program (TTCSP) at the Lauder Institute of the University of Pennsylvania conducts research on the role of governmental and civic policy organizations worldwide. Details supplied by the Bangladesh Seed Association. Download full list here.
BSA member contributes to world record for largest crop art mosaic: Bangladesh has been recognized in the World Guinness Record for the largest Crop Art Mosaic, which is a portrait of the nation’s founding father, Bangabandu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, etched into paddy fields. The theme architect of this record work is KSM Mustafizur Rahman, Managing Director of National Agricare, an active and prominent member of the Bangladesh Seed Association. According to a report from the Dhaka Tribune, the crop field mosaic is 300 meters wide [from shoulder to shoulder] by 400 meters long [from chest to head], and spans a total 119,430.273sqm (1,285,536.75sqft), “and was achieved by AFM Bahauddin Nasim and KSM Mostafizur Rahman ... in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on 9 March 2021.” The crop mosaic commemorates the 101st anniversary of the birth of the late leader, who was born on March 17, 1920.
Failed onion seeds blamed on cool weather: February 2021: Some 600 farmers in Durgapur, Rajshahi have reported germination problems with subsidized seeds they received from the government. According to a local news report, farmers have suffered extreme losses after planting the seeds, which failed to germinate. The Department of Agricultural Extension has reportedly acknowledged the damage, blaming the problem on cool weather. Efforts will be made to compensate affected farmers. According to the Rajshahi Department of Agricultural Extension farmers were distributed 250 grams of seed, which totalled 150 kg of onion seeds for 600 farmers in Durgapur. Problems were reported in different areas including Jhaluka, Debipur, Joynagar and Singa of the Durgapur Upazila. Original report here.
Farmer group sues seed potato supplier: 4 February: A Group of farmers have filed a lawsuit against a national agriculture supplier regarding adulterated seed potato supply. According to a local media report, farmers have cultivated potatoes on hundreds of acres along the Brahmaputra river in and around Charjamail since since 2005. According to the suit claim, the supply of seed potato has been a mix of varieties, including certified seed instead of base seed, as well as low quality seeds. The poor quality of seed is being cited for failed crops. Original report here.
Bangladesh seed potato R&D paying off: January 2021: As Bangladesh increases seed potatoe research, its dependence on foreign supply decreases. This is according to Minister of Agriculture, Abdur Razzak, quoted in a local media. According to the report, the Minister, speaking to reporters at Domar in Nilphamari on January 27, had previously imported between 20,000 to 25,000 tonnes of seed potato from abroad. Currently it is only importin about 2,000 tonnes. Following an inspection of plots of the Bangladesh Agriculture Development Corporation (BADC) at Sonaray Union in Domar Upazila the Minister noted that 300 demonstration plots and multilocation tests are being conducted across the country this year, At present, the capacity of 30 cold storages in 26 zones of the country is 45,500 metric tons. Four more cold storages with a capacity of two thousand metric tons will be constructed. This will increase the seed potato storage capacity of BADC to 53,500 metric tons. The minister said the annual demand for seed potatoes in the country is 650,000 tonnes. Original report here.
Maize and wheat productivity increasing: January 2021: At present Bangladeshi farmers are only ablet to supply about 46% of the country’s annual demand for wheat and maize, with the remaining needing to be imported from abroad. However, with the introduction of new varieties of wheat and maize seeds, the production per hectare has increased. Though new varieties havebeen developed, the production of breeding seeds is still inadequate due to lack of necessary land. Citing figures from the Bangladesh Wheat and Maize Research Institute at Nashipur in Dinajpur, Bangladesh’s demand for wheat in the fiscal year 2019-20 was 61.22 million tons. Of which only 1,200 tons was produced domestically. In the same period, the demand for maize was 6,500 lakh tonnes out of which 5,400 tonnes was produced domestically, meaning 1,100 tonnes had to be imported from abroad. At present, wheat is being cultivated on 3.42 million hectares of land in the country, and the average yield is 3.8 tons per hectare. Meanwhile, maize is cultivated on about 554,000, and the average yield is 9.84 tons per hectare. Read original report here.
2025 Self-sufficiency for jute seed: January 2021: The government has has announced a five-year roadmap to achieve self-sufficiency in quality jute seed production, so that Bangladesh would be fully self-sufficient in improved jute seed production by 2025. According to local media report, the plan, which was finalized by the Ministry of Agriculture, will focus on improving productivity by developing local varieties. At present, two varieties of jute are cultivated on about 600,000 to 700,000 hectares of land in the country, which yield about 60 to 75 million bales of jute annually. This requires about 6 to 7 thousand metric tons of jute seeds, and currently 85-90 percent of the seeds are imported from India. Read the original report here.
Companies fined for expired seeds: January 2021: Traders were fined between BDT 7,000 to 20,000 ($82 to $236) for keeping expired seeds or pesticides. The fines were issued after authorities from the National Consumer Rights Protection Department in Shayestaganj, Habigan raided local markets, including the Driver's Bazar and Daudnagar Bazar in the upazila on January 13. One trader was fined Tk 7,000 for keeping expired seeds; another was fined Tk 20,000 for keeping expired pesticides. The raids were carried out after farmers had complained about seeds that did not germinate and other crop failures related to expired pesticides. For more details, see original news here.
New Bt cotton trials convene: January 2021:
Bangladesh researchers working through the Cotton Development Board (CDB) have begun field trials for two varieties of Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) cotton. The genetic material is reportedly from India’s JK Agri Genetics in Hyderabad. More details here.
Doubled soybean price spurs mass production of seed: January 2021:
Laxmipur: Soybean seeds are being cultivated en masse in thousands of acres of land on the huge char (islands) of the Meghna river. The raw soybean seeds are said to be sourced from Ladhipur, and distributed to farmers for multiplication nationwide. The volume of soybean produced in the region is was reported to be more than 10,000 tons and worth Tk 200 crore ($23.6 million). More than five thousand people without land are involved in the production of this seed soybean and the market price is said to be more than double the usual price. Read more in Bangladeshi here.