Monday, March 13, 2023

BRRI hosts workshop on the impact of project modernizing rice breeding in Bangladesh

The Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) in Gazipur hosted a workshop on 06-05 March to highlight the achievements of the Transforming Rice Breeding (TRB) project that aims to increase the rate of genetic gain for yield and improve the effectiveness and efficiency of breeding operations.

The event was significant and timely for rice research in Bangladesh, according to Shaikh Mohammad Bakhtiar, executive chairman of the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC).

Rice production in Bangladesh has grown more than three-and-a-half folds over the past 50 years with improved rice varieties' development and widespread acceptance. However, because of the slow rate of varietal growth, most modern varieties cultivated in Bangladesh are over 20 years old. The current rate of yield improvement from new types is also considered to be inadequate to meet future global demands for rice. In response, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and BRRI implemented the TRB project in Bangladesh in 2015 with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF).

The project focuses on significantly speeding up the breeding cycles, integrating genomics-based approaches for selecting parents with high genomic evaluated breeding value, implementing contemporary breeding informatics in its entirety, and increasing on-farm testing and demand creation. These modifications are also being institutionalized and expanded so that they may be maintained when the experiment concludes.

Through the TRB project, IRRI assisted BRRI in enhancing the pace of genetic gain in rice production, shortening the breeding cycles, and improving the accuracy of breeding line selection using breeding information management and widespread on-farm testing. As a result, BRRI has changed its slow and costly pedigree breeding method with a faster and less expensive modified single-seed descent method. It is projected that BRRI will be able to produce genetic improvements in rice output of, at least, 2% annually or a 10-fold increase over the baseline.

During the workshop, BRRI and the Bangladesh Institute of Nuclear Agriculture (BINA) presented the results of several field tests under favorable and unfavorable environmental conditions, including drought, salinity, and submergence. The experiments were undertaken in Gazipur, Rajshahi, Rangpur, Kushtia, Cumilla, Satkhira, and Barisal Districts in partnership with BRRI, BINA, Khulna University, and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Agricultural University and with the assistance of IRRI.

Based on the results, rice breeding programs for Bangladesh to meet the demands of the country’s farmers, dealers, millers, and consumers will be initiated at IRRI Headquarters. The strategy aims to enhance Bangladesh's food security in the future by generating farmer- and consumer-friendly rice varieties suited to the climate of the country, TRB will improve not only rice breeding at IRRI, but also the breeding programs at BRRI, BINA, and agricultural universities. Private firms will also be able to increase their own rice breeding capability by utilizing the advanced rice lines developed.

Dr. Bakhtiar expressed his hope that IRRI will continue its efforts in research in Bangladesh to improve rice breeding and play a crucial role in ensuring food security in Bangladesh.

The workshop was attended by BINA Director General Mirza Mofazzal Islam, Dr. Hans Raj Bhardwaj, leader of Rice Breeding Innovations Platform at IRRI, and Dr. Gary N. Atlin, senior program officer of BMGF. Scientists, specialists, and researchers from IRRI, BRRI, and BINA, delegates from the KGF, professors from different universities, and representatives from private seed companies Aftab Bahumukhi Farms Limited, Ispahani Agro Limited, Lal Teer Seed Company Limited, and Supreme Seed Company Limited also attended the event.

BRRI Director General Md. Shahjahan Kabir, presided over the event, Dr. Mohammad Rafiqul Islam discussed the agenda, and Dr. K M Iftekharuddaula presented the summary achievement and progress of TRB’s activities.


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