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Bangladesh Hopes to Further Co-op with China on Hybrid Rice Project

Bangladeshi agricultural experts hope to further cooperation on hybrid rice project between Bangladesh and China in order to increase food production and realize food sufficiency in the South Asian country.

A W Julfiquar, director of Bangladesh Rice Research Institute under Agriculture Ministry, told Xinhua Tuesday in an exclusive interview in Bangladesh's Gazipur district, 37 km north of capital Dhaka that the cooperation on hybrid rice project between Bangladesh and China started in 2001.

"China sent 5 agricultural scientists in two batches to Bangladesh. They brought hybrid seeds and planted in some test fields, but later they found the seeds were not suitable to grow in Bangladesh," he said.

Julfiquar said the scientists then extracted gene from the hybrid seed and bred seeds suitable for Bangladesh.

"'Father of Hybrid Rice' Yuan Longping visited Bangladesh for three days in 2002. After site-visiting, he said hybrid rice project had great prospect in Bangladesh," Julfiquar said.

According to him, Bangladesh imports 5,000 tons hybrid rice seeds from China every year, covering 5 percent of rice fields.

The yield of hybrid rice field is 1,000 kg more than the conventional rice field. "So promoting the plantation of hybrid rice is very necessary," he said.

Julfiquar said the Bangladeshi government supported the hybrid rice project in the research and encouragement of importing some hybrid rice seeds.

Julfiquar said they are planning to grow hybrid rice in 25 percent of rice fields.

"But the difficulty we are facing is the import price of hybrid seed is very expensive, the farmers can't afford," he said.

Julfiquar said they are breeding the local hybrid rice seeds, if successful, the farmers will reduce the dependency on import hybrid rice seeds.

Julfiquar said he hoped that the government provides more financial and logistic support on hybrid rice project and also hoped to have further technical cooperation and exchange program with China.

Growing rice takes the leading role in agriculture in Bangladesh, with 75 percent cultivable land used to grow rice.

Bangladesh Rice Research Institute was established in 1970 when Bangladesh was a part of Pakistan.

(Xinhua News Agency July 23, 2008)

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