A “Bangabandhu Chair” will be set up at the Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS) of the University of Saskatchewan (USask) in Canada aiming to help promote multidisciplinary research and ensure sustainable food security.
To this end, the GIFS of Canada and Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC) under the Bangladesh Agriculture Ministry signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) at a city hotel on Monday in presence of Agriculture Minister Dr Muhammad Abdur Razzaque and Canadian Agriculture Minister David Marit (Saskatchewan Government).Under the agreement, the GIFS and the BARC will work on a multidisciplinary research, training and development partnership to help promote sustainable food security in the country, a BARC press release said on Tuesday.
The MoU work-plan includes establishing a “Bangabandhu Chair” at GIFS, linked to a similar position at BARC, in recognition of the invaluable contribution of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to striving for food security for a newborn Bangladesh.
An agricultural technology centre named “Bangabandhu – Pierre Elliot Trudeau Agricultural Technology Centre” will also be established in Bangladesh in a joint collaboration to reflect Canada’s support during the Bangladesh War of Independence and the strong and longstanding bilateral relationship.
Speaking at the MoU signing ceremony as the chief guest, Dr Razzaque briefed the country’s recent achievements in agriculture alongside the daunting challenges like declining and degrading land resources, decreasing water resources, increasing natural hazards and climate change vulnerability.
He hoped that this partnership with GIFS would support the government’s plans to achieve this vision, and go a long way to strengthen Bangladesh’s relationship with Saskatchewan and Canada.
Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister David Marit said relationship extended to the research communities would further strengthen Bangladesh-Canada ties to work towards an agricultural future that can provide food security for billions.Director General (Americas) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ferdausi Shariar, Canadian High Commissioner in Dhaka Benoit Prefontaine and Agriculture Secretary M Nasiruzzaman, among others, spoke on the occasion. BARC executive chairman Dr Shaikh Mohammad Bokhtiar read out a keynote paper on the background and the highlights of the MoU signed yesterday. The five- year contract aims at advancing knowledge and technologies for agricultural research and development in Bangladesh. As per the provisions of the signed MoU, a consortium will be jointly formed involving GIFS and BARC, which coordinates the National Agricultural Research System (NARS) in Bangladesh.
The consortium will work with partners in Canada and Bangladesh to deliver programmes focused on enhancing farmer incomes, addressing the adverse impacts of climate change in Bangladesh, thereby strengthening the country’s delivery of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the press release said.
Another 16-member Canadian delegation, led by Stephen Visscher (CBE), GIFS, arrived in Dhaka earlier on February 4, 2020 that included representatives from USask research organizations – the Global Institute for Water Security, the Colleges of Agriculture and Bioresources, Arts and Science and Pharmacy and Nutrition, and the Canadian Light Source, as well as from the National Research Council.
The GIFS plans to work with these teams to design and deliver diverse research, training and development programmes.
As part of the MoU signing programme with BARC, the GIFS delegates attended a workshop on February 6, 2020 and a joint meeting on agricultural cooperation on February 8, 2020 at BARC. The delegation visited Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI), Gazipur, Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI), Gazipur and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Agricultural University (BSMRAU), Gazipur, on February 9, 2020. The senior scientists and heads of the agricultural research institutes and university professors also attended these programmes from Bangladesh side.
The Saskatchewan Province is a leading Canadian agri-food exporter, with $12.9 billion in sales in 2019. Canada’s major agricultural exports are lentils, wheat, peas and potash (fertiliser).
The MoU signing ceremony was attended by around 20 guests, including senior officers from the Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, senior scientists and professors from the agricultural research-extension organisations and universities, and representatives from the Canadian High Commission in Dhaka, the Bangladesh High Commission in Canada, IRRI, CIMMYT, IFPRI, FAO, USAID and UNDP.