Rice bran was considered as waste even a few years back. With the use of innovative ideas and technology, oil is extracted from the outer brown layer of husked rice. The rice bran oil has added a new dimension to our food habit. By now the antioxidant-rich edible oil has become a popular choice among consumers. Its production is rising exponentially on the back of increased health consciousness among people.
So far 14 companies joined the foray to extract oil from rice bran and they continue to create new jobs and contribute to the country's economic growth. Banking on creativity and research a new industrial sector has developed with huge growth potential. Observers believe that increased research in the agricultural sector can open up new opportunities.According to a study, the oil contains antioxidants, vitamins, almost all fatty acids, other nutrients and it is free of trans fat and monosodium glutamate which causes obesity. Because of these ingredients and characteristics, it is increasingly attracting the attention of consumers.
Rice bran oil significantly reduces cholesterol in healthy adults and helps prevent obesity which is one of the main culprits behind diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. As a result, it has become a healthy alternative to soybean oil. If production of this oil can be increased then we will save foreign exchange spent for importing soybean oil
Currently, rice bran oil meets around 260,000 tonnes of our total demand of 1.6 million tonnes for edible oil; hence it continues to lower the dependency on imported oil. Also, the product is gradually making headway in the international market for its healthy features and we have a chance to earn a lot of foreign exchange by exporting it.
In fact, Bangladesh's strides in the increasing rice yield are largely advantageous to the rice bran oil industry. But, the industry cannot utilise its full growth potential. Though the country yields 40 lakh tonnes of rice bran from annual rice production, factories cannot make the most of their capacity due to poor supply of the raw material. This remains a major challenge for the industry.
We must act now to earmark the growth constraints and extend policy and other supports for tapping the full potential of the new industry.