Twenty salinity-tolerant rice were identified for further evaluation as part of breeding efforts to develop new varieties for rice-growing areas in Bangladesh affected by high salinity.
Recognizing the urgency of the challenges faced by farmers in the region, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI), Bangladesh Institute of Nuclear Agriculture (BINA), and various agricultural universities established a dedicated breeding pipeline to develop improved salinity-tolerant rice germplasm for Bangladesh.
Over 20 breeders and researchers from IRRI, BRRI, BINA, and agricultural universities met at the IRRI Bangladesh Office in Dhaka on 23 October 2023 to discuss future breeding strategies and trial data and analysis and identify the most promising genotypes for further evaluation and nominations. The meeting marked a step forward in the development of salinity-tolerant rice genotypes.
Salinity is a major problem during the boro season impacting approximately 1.2 million hectares of rice land in Bangladesh. Some 36% of the affected rice-growing areas remain uncultivated due to high salinity, according to Akhlasur Rahman, head of Salinity Rice Breeding at BRRI. The tremendous potential for transforming this land into productive rice cultivation could significantly enhance food security in coastal regions, Dr. Rahman added.
Results of advanced salinity tolerant breeding lines developed at IRRI headquarters and tested at national agriculture research and extension systems network (NARES) locations throughout Bangladesh during the 2022 boro season were presented during the meeting.
Dr. Waseem Hussain, lead of the Late Maturity Breeding Program at IRRI, and Dr. Mahender Anumalla, a postdoctoral scholar, presented the results and analysis to the NARES partners. From the analysis, 20 highest-yielding salinity-tolerant genotypes were selected for further trial evaluation. Besides the joint selections, breeding approaches and innovations in salinity breeding and phenotypic screening under hotspot saline conditions were also discussed.
Dr. Rahman emphasized the need for partnership between IRRI and NARES and encouraged the adoption of new breeding approaches in developing salinity-tolerant rice lines for Bangladesh.
Mohammad Khalequzzaman, director of research at BRRI, reiterated the importance of a strong collaboration between IRRI and Bangladesh in addressing the salinity problem in rice cultivation.
This collaborative effort holds the key to enhancing salinity breeding and research, which, in turn, will play a vital role in ensuring food security in Bangladesh, according to Dr. Khalequzzaman.
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