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Bio-fortified rice farming gaining popularity

  • ANM Mohibub Uz Zaman
  • 15 November, 2022 12:00 AM
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Bio-fortified rice farming gaining popularity

The concept of the bio-fortified rice farming is getting popular among farmers in the country for its rich contents, including protein and zinc.

The diets of the lower-income people usually consist of relatively larger amounts of staple foods, mainly rice. A poor access to a balanced diet is causing serious malnutrition for the marginal people.

But, the bio-fortification of rice with essential vitamins and minerals has become a cost-effective process to provide the lower-income people with nutrition.

The common people of the country cannot buy other nutritious foods, including fruit, milk, eggs, fish and meat, but they can eat rice regularly.

Adequate intake of vitamin and mineral-enriched food is necessary for achieving and maintaining good health.

Zinc is one of the micronutrients considered essential to improve human health and decrease the risk of malnutrition.

Currently, this paddy cultivation has been expanded to 3.60 lakh hectares of land from which the product is about 17.93 lakh tonnes per year.

Scientists have developed different vitamin-and mineral-rich bio-fortified rice varieties to eliminate malnutrition in the country, said Dr Md Abdul Kader, a scientist of Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) overseeing biotech-derived nutrient-rich rice varieties.

 “Rice is the main staple food in our country. The marginal people who are suffering from

malnutrition consume rice three times a day.  For this, it is helpful to provide them with nutrition with bio-fortified rice like zinc rice,” he said.

 “Around 50-70 per cent of daily demand for zinc can be met by consuming zinc-enriched rice. The rapid expansion of these varieties among farmers will make it easy and sustainable to meet the country's malnutrition and zinc deficiency alongside enhancing immunity,” he said.

Among children under five, 28 percent suffer from stunting, 23 percent from being underweight and 10 percent from wasting or low weight-for-height, according to Bangladesh National Nutrition Profile of Bangladesh National Nutrition Council (BNNC).

At least 23 districts have higher stunting and wasting rates among children than the national average while 25 districts have higher underweight rates.

The scientists of BRRI developed seven zinc-enriched rice varieties. Besides, various research institutes in the country have so far developed 16 more bio-fortified zinc rice varieties.

Shamsul Alam, a farmer from Kushtia, said he cultivated zinc rice on his two bighas of land this Aman season for its nutritional benefits.

 “Many people in my area gave booking to get the rice after hearing its nutritional benefits,” he said.

The BRRI-developed rice varieties are BRRI Dhan 62 and 72 for Aman season, BRRI Dhan 64, 74, 84, 102 and Bangabandhu Dhan 100 for the Boro season.

One kg of BRRI Dhan 62 contains 20 milligrams of zinc while production per hectare is 4.5 tonnes and one kg of BRRI Dhan 72 contains 22.8 milligrams of zinc while production per hectare is 6 tonnes.

One kg of BRRI Dhan 64 contains 24.5 milligram of zinc and production of this variety is 6.5 tonnes per hectare, BRRI Dhan 74 contains 24.2 milligram of zinc and production is 7 tonnes, BRRI Dhan 84 contains 27.6 milligram of zinc and 10 ppm iron and production is 6.5 tonnes per hectare.