MOON Desk: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday asked agriculturists to carry on their efforts to increase food yield keeping in mind the adverse global circumstances and climate change.
“In view of the (global) situation, we have to produce our crops,” she said, opening golden jubilee celebrations of Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI).
She added that climate change phenomenon also required Bangladesh to produce new crop varieties alongside the traditional crops.
Sheikh Hasina inaugurated Bangabandhu-Pierre Elliot Trudeau Agricultural Technology Centre at BRRI in Gazipur coinciding with the BRRI golden jubilee celebrations.
The Center has been set up at BRRI following a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between the Global Institute for Food Security at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada and the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council aiming to cooperate on multidisciplinary research, training and development partnership to ensure sustainable food security.
The premier, however, acknowledged with happiness that Bangladesh not only set an example in food grain production, but also in different kind of vegetables, fruits and other agricultural products.
She said since the country was going to enter the era of fourth industrial revolution (4IR), her government has taken initiatives to develop skilled human resources.
“To keep pace (with the 4IR), we have to learn about nano-technology, bio-informatics, machines, internet of things and new agriculture technologies and have to produce these technologies as well,” she added.
With Agriculture Minister Dr. Muhammad Abdur Razzaque in the chair, BRRI Director General Dr. Md. Shahjahan Kabir delivered the welcome address.
Agriculture Secretary Wahida Akter, Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC) Executive Chairman Dr. Shaikh Mohammad Bokhtiar, International Rice Research Institute Director General Jean Balie, Global Institute for Food Security Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer Steven Webb, among others, also spoke.
Liberation War Affairs Minister A K M Mozammel Huq and State Minister for Youth and Sports Md. Zahid Ahsan Russel were also present.
A documentary titled “50 years of BRRI’s pride and success” was screened at the function.
Earlier, after arrival at the BRRI, the prime minister paid homage to the portrait of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
She also released balloons and pigeons marking the BRRI golden jubilee.
She, as well, took part in different programmes including tree plantations, inspection of BRRI laboratories, its various innovations and a cultural event titled “Dhan-Kabbya”.
The prime minister unveiled the cover of five research publications of BRRI and BARC.
The prime minister said the population of the country is increasing day by day, adding: “With the increase of population, we have to ensure their food security”.
Sheikh Hasina said Awami League (AL) government handed over the state power in 2001 making Bangladesh self-sufficient and food surplus country overcoming the deficiency of 40 lakhs metric tons food.
“BNP-Jamaat alliance came to power in 2001 and Bangladesh again turned into a country of food deficit in the short period,” she said.
After winning the election in 2008, AL-led grand alliance formed government in 2009, when it found 26 lakh metric tons food deficiency in the country, she said.
To overcome this situation, the AL government took measures for agriculture research, boosting production, and distribution of high yield seeds and fertilizer among the farmers with providing assistance to them, she said.
“As a result of these initiatives, we are moving forward overcoming the dark period,” she said.
She continued that production has been increasing gradually due to high yielding varieties of crops and modern technologies.
To this end, she also referred to different varieties of rice invented by the BRRI.
BRRI has, so far, developed and released 111 modern varieties–104 Inbreed and 7 Hybrid. Of the varieties, 24 are stress tolerant, of which, 10 are saline tolerant while three submergences, three droughts, four cold, two tidal submergences, one semi-deep water and one dual tolerant (Sal+Sub).
In addition, 13 premium qualities, five Zn-enriched and three Low GI (Glycemic Index) rice for diabetic patients have also been developed. Now, BRRI released varieties contribution to national rice production is about 91 percent.
The premier extended her gratitude to the scientists, saying BRRI invented rice varieties and technologies have played a large role in poverty alleviation and economic development.
Mentioning that once there was one agriculture university in the country, she said the AL government has set up 12 science and technology universities, of which, two universities -Dinajpur Hazi Danesh and Patuakhali- specially for agriculture education.
They have also established Sher-e-Bangla and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman agricultural universities, she added.
Referring to providing education stipend to around 2.5 crore students, Sheikh Hasina said that her government has been giving stipend for research specially.
“I always think that, without research, attaining excellence is not possible,” she said.
As Bangladesh is an agricultural country and that is why the government has given special emphasis on the research of agriculture, she said, adding that alongside it, they have also paid attention to health, education and science research.
The prime minister also mentioned the initiative of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman regarding mechanization of agriculture.
“Following the footsteps of him (Bangabandhu), we are taking measures for agriculture as we have given special allocation for its mechanization,” she added.
The head of government put emphasis on the necessity of engaging the country’s youth folk to agriculture, sayingh it should start from their school life.