A 17-member delegate team of the Commission for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) from the Australian government headed by Fiona Simson visited the coastal region of Bangladesh from 12 to 16 February to strengthen agricultural research.
Professor Dr Andrew Campbell, chief executive officer of ACIAR, coordinated the delegation’s Bangladesh visit, said a press release.
The team visited the remote area of Kalapara saline fallow land of Patuakhali district intending to observe the ongoing Australian government-supported research activities in Bangladesh coastal areas as well as to explore the possible areas for further collaborations.
ACIAR provides collective decision-making and expert advice to Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs concerning programme formulation for agricultural research and development priority setting, funding, etc.
At Kalapara, the delegates enjoyed the relay wheat cultivation at saline fallow land which was cultivated by the coastal farmers under ACIAR support.
The main attraction of this relay wheat is that the wheat seeds are seeded in the standing rice field, just 15-25 days before harvesting rice to ensure the optimum planting time.
Dr Mustafa Khan, the senior scientist of Bangladesh Wheat and Maize Research Institute (BWMRI), pointed out that through this technology, farmers can plant wheat seeds at right time.
After harvesting rice during the dry season in saline fallow land where no cultivation was possible earlier due to increased salinity and scarcity of water, farmers are now cultivating wheat in the relay system.
Through support from ACIAR, the University of Western Australia, Bangladesh Wheat and Maize Research Institute and Poverty Eradication Program are jointly implementing the relay wheat cropping under the leadership of Dr MG Neogi, the Deputy Project Leader of the University of Western Australia.
Though involved farmers and concerned scientists are now expecting to ensure 3.5 tonnes of yields per hectare, Dr Neogi commented that if farmers cultivate this relay wheat by using a salt-tolerant variety, the production will be more.