Transforming the Crop Production Landscape in Bangladesh: A High Yielding, Early Maturing Rice Mutant Variety is beating the Monga Food Insecurity Phenomenon

A High Yielding, Early Maturing Rice Mutant Variety is beating the Monga Food Insecurity Phenomenon As in most tropical and sub-tropical regions, in Bangladesh, there is a season called Monga (October and early November) during which crops are still maturing in the field but grain stock is dangerously limited in the monsoon season. Monga is a seasonal food insecurity phenomenon in ecologically vulnerable and economically weak parts of north-western Bangladesh, primarily caused by an employment and income deficit before aman (rice grown in the monsoon season) is harvested. It mainly affects those rural poor, who have an undiversified income that is directly or indirectly based on agriculture. The basic explanation of the Monga: employment and income opportunities of the rural poor strongly decrease between transplantation and harvest of paddy. The lack of income reduces their ability to cover nutritional requirements.

Thus, during this season farmers are not able to work and at times do not have sufficient food to eat. The Agency supported the development of an excellent rice mutant variety, BINA Dhan-7 (BINA = Bangladesh Institute of Nuclear Agriculture, Dhan), which is early-maturing and high-yielding, efficiently alleviating the effects of the Monga.

An IAEA/RCA TC project, RAS/5/037, was implemented from 1997 to 2002 with the participation of 10 Asian countries. In this project, a regional rice mutant variety trial was organized in the participating countries. One of the mutant lines, TNDB100, developed by the Cuu Long Rice Research Institute of Vietnam, showed promising results in Bangladesh. However, it was still under segregation. The counterpart in Bangladesh, Dr. A. Azam, continued to select best performing plants from this variety and in 2007 a stable line was released as a new rice variety with the name 'BINA Dhan-7'.

This new variety has been tested and grown by farmers in rural areas of northern Bangladesh, where traditionally two crops of rice are grown during the year (rain fed production in raining season - July to November/December and irrigated production in dry season - January to May). The season from October to early November is the Monga, where rice is still maturing in the fields.

Performance and advantage of BINA Dhan-7. In the tested area, BINA Dhan-7 can be harvested approximately one month earlier than other rice varieties and has almost similar yield as late maturing varieties and high quality. This mutant variety of paddy is now cultivated in a three crop rotation and intercropping pattern - paddy/potato/mug (Green Gram or Phaseolus radiatus, which is a pulse crop) - in the area of Northern Bangladesh and contributes to precious additional income for local farmers. Therefore, it provides an important means for combating the Monga. There are other early maturing rice varieties; however most of them are not high yield. Farmers prefer BINA Dhan-7 as the average yield rate per hectare is 4.5 metric tons and colors are attractive, rice grains are comparatively bigger in length and fine, achieving higher market prices than other varieties. Cultivation of BINA Dhan-7 thus provides the following advantages:

- combating the seasonal food shortage;
- creation of job opportunities for farm workers;
- farmers can produce another crop of potato;
- the rice straw can be sold at a good price as feed is also in shortage in October;
- rice can be sold at a higher price since BINA Dhan-7 is a high quality variety and at that moment in time, rice is less available at the market place;
- there is a great potential to avoid drought stress, which happens from time to time in November.

Rapid expansion and potential. Due to the above merits and potential impact, BINA Dhan-7 is being accepted very quickly by farmers. Several non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and government agricultural extension workers have set up hundreds of demonstration sites and organized demonstration and dissemination activities such as field days. For example, one NGO - Rangpur-Dinaspur Rural Agriculture Service - disseminated seeds of BINA Dhan-7 to about 2 300 farmers in 2008, and plans to increase to 10 000 in 2010. It is expected that about 80% of rice areas might be cultivated by this variety in the coming two to three years. Therefore, the socio-economic impact will be huge.

'The Daily Star' (Second Edition) newspaper
Dhaka, Bangladesh, Tuesday, 20 October 2009
Scientists see bright prospect for high-yielding BINA Dhan-7
Correspondent, Rangpur

BINA Dhan-7 bears bright prospect for a massive change in the socio-economic condition and food security status in the monga-hit northern region as opportunity to cultivate a third crop (an additional crop) in a year will benefit both the farmers and farm labourers.

Scientists of Bangladesh Institute of Nuclear Agriculture (BINA), Mymensingh and Agriculture Extension Department (AED) and farmers expressed the hope as they met on a 'Field Day' on the prospect of the high-yielding variety of aman rice at Joyrampur Anwar village in Mithapukur upazilla yesterday.

BINA and Rangpur AED with the assistance of a few NGOs cultivated the early variety rice on 7000 hectares of land in greater Rangpur region this season.

Ideal for the soil and climate of the region, BINA Dhan-7 is least affected by natural calamities like flood, drought and pest attack, said Dr Lokman Hakim, chief scientific officer (Plant Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering Division) of BINA.

Farmers can get about 4.7 to 5 tonnes of rice per hectare by cultivating BINA Dhan-7 and the fine quality rice will be more profitable than usual varieties, said Dr M Raisul Haider, principal scientific officer (Training Communication and Publication Division) of BINA.

BINA Dhan-7 can be harvested in mid-October and it will create job opportunity for the farm labourers during October and November when monga prevails in the northern region, speakers said at the function. International Atomic Energy Agency developed the variety in Vietnam in 1999. BINA brought the variety and conducted experiment and research on it for long. In 2007, National Seed Board of Bangladesh approved it as BINA Dhan-7. Plant Breeder of International Atomic Energy Agency Qingyao Shu also spoke on the occasion.