Thursday, May 24, 2018

DNA fingerprinting to improve seed systems monitoring in Bangladesh

Stakeholders discuss the potential of DNA fingerprinting technology in addressing concerns presented in the Rice Monitoring Survey in South Asia (RMSSA) Workshop in Dhaka, Bangladesh, 08 May 2018.

To present information on and address concerns associated with the adoption of abiotic stress tolerant rice varieties in Bangladesh, a workshop on rice varietal monitoring and seed system improvement using DNA fingerprinting technology was held at the Center on Integrated Rural Development for Asia and the Pacific (CIRDAP) International Conference Center (CICC), Dhaka, Bangladesh, May 8.

Discussed in the workshop were significant information on adoption rates, areas planted under different rice varieties, and varietal turnover and seed replenishment rates as revealed by results of the Rice Monitoring Survey in South Asia (RMSSA), a project launched in 2014-2018 by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) with funding from  the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF). The project also identified seeds system challenges in South Asia, namely varietal misidentification, seed mixing, and seed mislabeling at different levels of the seed supply chain.

Aiming to address these, IRRI and the Government of Bangladesh, in association with BMGF, introduced through a workshop the use of DNA fingerprinting technology.

Varietal misidentification directly affects seed production and distribution. Farmers sometimes make the error of growing a variety, mistaking it for another. This mismatch occurs by up to 30%, as reported during the workshop. This affects farmers’ estimation of areas planted under different rice varieties and evaluating their performance.

Moreover, farmers also observed that seeds they purchase from the market are not of optimum quality; these are sometimes mixed up and mislabeled as there are no protocols for confirming their varietal identities.

The DNA fingerprinting technology can address these challenges, because it makes possible a correct identification of varieties to be grown by farmers. As cultivars sometimes possess very similar features, varietal distinction can be difficult without molecular diagnosis. DNA fingerprinting will help farmers properly identify the variety to grow and the variety age, thus helping increase the availability of quality seeds in the market, which can help in developing programs to replace old varieties with new and improved ones.

Chief Guest of the workshop, Agriculture Secretary Mr. Moinuddin Abdullah, said that, “For ensuring food security and maintaining accuracy in the policy of budgeting and area estimation, DNA fingerprinting can play a vital role. The Ministry of Agriculture positively looks forward to the developments and progress of this study and hopes to work together with IRRI for using the findings constructively to benefit the farmers.”

With DNA fingerprinting integrated into their seed monitoring systems, stakeholders anticipate better targeted dissemination and adoption of rice varieties; improved policies; and a more productive seed value chain.

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