The “Swadhinata Padak 2018”, more popularly known as the Independence Award, is the highest civilian honor the Prime Minister of Bangladesh awards individuals who have made remarkable contributions in their respective fields. Having devoted over 40 years in developing the rice-based agri-food systems of Bangladesh, Dr. Mazid has been given this honor for mitigating “Monga” and accelerating agriculture research for development of flash flood submergence tolerance rice, pioneering seed production, and training farmers in Bangladesh.
Dr. Mazid, who held various positions at the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) from 1977-2009, is highly identified for his leadership in promoting the BRRI dhan33 and Monga mitigation program. BRRI dhan33, a shorter duration rice variety jointly invented in 1997 and validated by BRRI and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), was introduced for cultivation in northern Bangladesh during the dreaded Monga period. The term ‘Monga’ is an annual lean period, a famine-like phenomenon, that causes hunger in northern areas of the country from October to November.
Cultivation of the BRRI dhan33 has allowed farmers to secure employment at a time when there were normally no local jobs available. Able to harvest during October-November, marginal farmers, who traditionally were the most vulnerable to financial crisis because of the Monga/lean period, are now able to produce yield at this period. This allows them to proceed to early cultivation of dry season crops like potato, maize, and sesame seeds, further ensuring employment and income.
Moreover, Dr. Mazid also served as Site Coordinator for different IRRI-BRRI collaborative projects from 1995-2008, when he was assigned in two BRRI Regional Stations, Rajshahi and Rangpur. Among these projects he helped manage were the Consortium for Unfavorable Rice Environments (CURE), Stress-tolerant Rice for Africa and South Asia (STRASA), Irrigated Rice Research Consortium (IRRC), and Poverty Elimination Through Rice Research Assistance (PETRRA).
He furthered his efforts on increasing food and income security of resource-poor farm families with his involvement as IRRI Associate Scientist and Administrative Coordinator for the Cereal System Initiatives for South Asia (CSISA) from 2009-2012.
Dr. Mazid is also recognized for his efforts towards strengthening agriculture research for development (AR4D), wherein he helped train Bangladeshi farmers, government and non-government officials on agronomic management, fertilizer research, weed control options, and seeds and seedlings management.
At present, Dr. Mazid continues to share with the world his experience and expertise on sustainable management technologies, conservation agriculture, profitable cropping patterns, and food and nutrition security.
Eighteen other distinguished individuals were announced as recipients of the Independence Award in their respective fields.