Category Archives: Science and Technology/Research and Development/Innovation

Local researchers develop jute-made substitute for CI sheet

Local researchers develop jute-made substitute for CI sheet

The maximum use of jute could be ensured in the country through large-scale commercial production of environment friendly substitute for traditional corrugated iron (CI) sheets, reports UNB.

JUTIN, a corrugated sheet made of jute hessian cloth and formulated solution of polymer materials, has been developed by a research group of Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC) under the supervision of Dr Mubarak Ahmad Khan, Chief Scientific Officer, Radiation and Polymer Chemistry Laboratory.

“JUTIN can be used as an alternative of the available metal based corrugated sheets,” Dr Mubarak told the news agency while speaking about the bright prospect of the product.

Dr Mubarak said that after the invention of artificial fibres, jute, a natural fibre known as the golden fibre of Bangladesh, as well as jute-made goods were lagging behind in competition in international market.

“The farmers are now not getting enough encouragement to cultivate jute – mostly for lack of quality jute seeds and fair price. This necessitated increase of scientific and modern usage of jute apart from the traditional usage”, he added.

Dr Mubarak said, “JUTIN – a composite product – can be used as a substitute of CI sheet. Many developed countries are already using jute and other natural fibres as composite material in making motor vehicles and as bodies of aeroplane”.

He said that JUTIN was not biodegradable, but it would not cause any harm to environment, as do products such as plastic and polythene.

As saline water causes rust to CI sheets, use of JUTIN – the jute-made corrugated sheets – will be of great advantage for the people in the coastal belt where water is saline.

The scientist said JUTIN was much more durable, strong and also flexible compared to CI sheets.

Dr Mubarak urged the government to launch either a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) project or entirely a government project to produce JUTIN commercially as about 30-40 per cent jute was used in JUTIN which makes it eco-friendly.

The BAEC scientist viewed that the commercial use of JUTIN could save substantial foreign exchange. “The housing projects of the government could also be implemented using JUTIN,” he said.

He added: “It will be particularly useful for the coastal areas as it won’t be affected by saline water. Houses made of JUTIN will be more comfortable because of its low thermal conductivity.” JUTIN having higher mechanical properties is durable, rustproof, saline-resistant, lightweight, heat-resistant and environment friendly.

Dr Mubarak also informed that the process was now ready for commercial production of JUTIN. The commercial production of JUTIN would play a major role in the jute sector of Bangladesh and it was perceived that the golden days of jute would be restored, he said.

BAEC is manually preparing JUTIN in the laboratory. An MoU between BAEC and UNICEF through DPHE (Ministry of LGED) was signed for pilot production of sanitary latrine from JUTIN in rural areas, especially in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT).

Bangladeshi company develops arsenicosis medicines

Bangladeshi company develops arsenicosis medicines
Unb, Dhaka

Viola Vitalis, a Bangladeshi company, has developed Arsenicure, an ointment for treatment of external symptoms, and Ars-detox, a capsule formulation to neutralise the accumulated arsenic inside the body.

The founder of Viola Vitalis, young scientist Dr Abdul Kader, made the announcement at a press conference held at the National Press Club yesterday morning.

Bangladesh Academy of Sciences and Viola Vitalis jointly organised the press conference.

Addressing the press conference, Dr Abdul Kader said there are certain specific problems, which are only encountered in developing countries but not experienced in the developed countries. In the developing countries, marginal people are mostly the victims of arsenicosis.

But, he said, the pharmaceutical or nutraceutical companies are not interested to develop products or services for the marginal people as their only “interest is on return on investment”.

Dr Kader said Viola Vitalis and Allium Vitals have developed an innovative system, which has been found effective to address arsenicosis problems.

He said that Viola Vitalis in cooperation with Helmholtz Centre for Environment Research, Leipzig, Germany are now developing ‘biosensor to detect specific arsenic contamination’ from water samples which will be user-friendly.

Dr Kader said: “The nutraceuticals are made based on natural preparations. It has been tested on animals. All ingredients are classified as GRAS by the FDA (Federal Drug Administration of United States Government). Generally, it is recognised as safe for human consumption.”

Secretary of Bangladesh Academy of Sciences and former chairman of Atomic Energy Commission Prof Naiyyum Chowdhury, scientist Prof Dr Amir H Khan and representative of the Helmholtz Centre for Environment Research Carola Endes also spoke at the press conference.

Bangladeshi rice seeds go abroad

Bangladeshi rice seeds go abroad

A total of 19 varieties of rice out of 52 developed by the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) are now being cultivated in 14 countries across the world.

Farmers of India, Nepal, Myanmar, Vietnam, Bhutan, Iraq, China, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Burundi and Benin are now cultivating the BRRI developed rice, officials confirmed.

Bangladesh started exchange of seeds across the world through the International Network for Genetic Evaluation of Rice from 1980.

While talking to The Independent yesterday BRRI research director Dr MA Salam, however, said that Bangladeshi farmers did not cultivate any varieties developed by these 14 countries.

“Bangladesh is not cultivating any India-developed  varieties, while India is cultivating the BRRI’s ‘BR-11′ variety, Dr Salam claimed.

According to the research director, the Assam Agricultural University of India has requested the BRRI to provide seeds of BR-29.

Assam’s land is fit for cultivating the BRRI’s developed variety of BR-29 and some seeds have already been smuggled out to India, sources said adding, that some Assamese farmers are now cultivating BR-29.

Dr Salam said that Bangladeshi scientists had earlier carried out research on Indian aromatic rice Bashmati, but the Indian government requested the BRRI not to conduct research on Bashmati. The Indian government claimed that Bashmati was Indian heritage, he added.

Salam, however, claimed that the BRRI had achieved a breakthrough in developing an aromatic rice named “BRRI dhan 50 (Banglamati)” like the Indian Bashmati rice after more than 15 years of research.

BRRI has made an outstanding contribution to the food security of the country through releasing modern varieties (MV) of rice and improved production technologies since its establishment on October 1, 1970 he said adding: “The BRRI has developed 52 modern varieties of rice, including three hybrids having potential of yielding two to three times more than the traditional rice varieties.”

Rice is the staple food of about 160 million people of Bangladesh. It provides employment to nearly 48 per cent of the rural people, about two-third of total calorie supply and about one-half of the total protein intakes of an average person in the country.

The rice sector contributes one-half of the agricultural GDP and one-sixth of the national income in Bangladesh.

However, there is no reason to be complacent. The population of Bangladesh is still growing by two million every year and may increase by another 30 million over the next 20 years.

Thus, Bangladesh will require about 27.26 million tons of rice in 2020. During this time, total rice area will also shrink to 10.28 million hectares.

Rice yield therefore, needs to be increased from the present 2.74 to 3.74 tonnes per hectare.

BRRI achieves breakthrough in inventing drought tolerant paddy

BRRI achieves breakthrough in inventing drought tolerant paddy

Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI)  has achieved breakthrough in  inventing two varieties of  drought tolerant paddy after more than one decade of research which is expected to go a long way in augmenting food grain production substantially.

The two newly invented varieties of BRRI dhan 42 and BRRI dhan 43 will pave the way for cultivating paddy on nine lakh hectares of drought prone lands across the country, BRRI researchers said.

The two varieties of paddy will be  cultivated next year as a test case. If the test  is successful, we start distributing seeds of the two newly invented varieties among the farmers of drought prone areas, BRRI director  general Md. Firoze Shah Sikder, told The Independent yesterday.

Replying to a question, he said that  the per hectare production of BRRI dhan 42 and 43 will be around 4.1 tonnes and 4.0 tonnes respectively.

“Our 12-14 years of research work, labour and efforts will be meaningful and worthy, if the newly invented varieties are successful,” the DG of BRRI said.

He said the country faces several kinds of natural calamities and necessary genes have made the new varieties and lines more adaptable to the environment. Consequently, BRRI dhan 42 and BRRI dhan 43 showed yield advantage over BR21 at drought prone direct-seeded areas (DSR).

Research director of BRRI Dr MA Salam told The Independent that two new high-yielding paddy seed varieties will be harvested next year on a test basis and later it will formally released to farmers to grow paddy on drought-prone lands.
He said the adaptability of these varieties was also observed in drought prone areas of Magura, Kushtia, Jhenaidah, Rajshahi and Chapainawabganj.

DSR varieties BR 20, BR 21 and BR 24 did not go down well with the farmers due to their high degree of susceptibility to drought. On the other hand, the new varieties BRRI dhan 42 and BRRI dhan 43 showed better performances than Fulbadami, the popular local check variety in a trial conducted at Chuadanga, the most drought prone region in the country, he added.

He further said  that the laboratory studies on root length and time to leaf rolling in desiccation supported that the varieties had higher degree of resistance to water stress than BR21 which was closer or similar to the local check Fulbadami.

Cultivable land of Bangladesh is about 8.2 million hectares. of them, five million hectares are under  transparent aman (T Aman) crop. Being dependent on rain fed condition, T Aman crop suffers from drought due to erratic and uneven distribution of rainfall.

Drought prone T Aman area of the country is about 4.2 million hectares covering 254 upazilas in 46 districts. Yield loss in T Aman due to drought varies from 15 per cent to 60 per cent according to the intensity of the drought, sources said.

According to experts, per capita paddy area will gradually shrink to only 0.149 acre in 2020 and the required rice per head per day will  decrease from 528 grams in 2001 to 463 grams in 2020 due to the increase in population. This indicates a decreasing trend of daily requirement of rice.

For sustaining the adequate level of rice yield required for the ever increasing population in  the years to come, rice researchers should continue to develop improved and cost effective technologies, experts stressed.

They also laid emphasis on co-ordinated and integrated efforts to tackle the drought considering it a number one problem in food production.

Dev of salinity tolerant rice at final stage

Dev of salinity tolerant rice at final stage
BSS, Dhaka

A newly invented variety of salinity- tolerant rice will be placed before the National Seed Board to get nod from the authorities for taking it to field level cultivation in the next Boro season.

Bangladesh Institute of Nuclear Agriculture (BINA) is at the final stage of developing the variety to cultivate in the lands with high salinity in the coastal belts of the country. The probable name of the variety would be BINA dhan-8.

Dr Mirza Mofazzal Islam, principal scientific officer of BINA said that the vast tract of coastal lands with high salinity of the region remained fallow in absence of salinity tolerant variety of rice.

At present the falling rate of mature paddy of BR- 47, which has less tolerance level of salinity, is very high in the harvesting time that may affect total production rate of the farmers, Dr Mirza added.

But falling rate of the BINA-8, the newly developed variety, is very low, he said the variety will create good prospect for some good qualities in lands with salinity in the country’s coastal region.

Dr Mirza, who is developing the variety under the initiative of BINA, said the development of BINA dhan- 8 was started in 2000 and now it is at final stage and ready to be cultivated.

Biotechnology in Bangladesh

Biotechnology in Bangladesh
Mohammad Rajja

BANGLADESH seriously took up biotechnological research only recently. Earlier it did not take genetic technology seriously although Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC) had a programme on ‘genetic improvement of industrial microorganisms’ since early 1970’s.

Genetic improvement of citric acid fermenting strains of aspergillus niger, obtained through mutations, could not be applied on the ground in Bangladesh due to lack of suitable industries. Bangladesh also could not adopt gene transfer technology due to shortage of fund and training facilities. It came to Bangladesh very recently. Microbiologists are working in areas like human healthcare, agriculture, industry and pollution control. The scientists working on gene transfer technology are expected to show the results in the near future.

For the medical students the thrust area is vaccine development. The initiative of the Institute of Public Health (IPH) and the International Center for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B) is worth mentioning. Biotechnology for diagnostic service is utilised by the ICDDR,B and IPH. the ICDDR,B has established its lab for the diagnosis of diarrhea, cholera and hepatitis A, B and C. Development of shigella vaccine is underway at the ICDDR,B.

Bangladesh Rice Research Institute and Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute have developed disease-resistant high yielding varieties of crops including rice, wheat, pulses, potato, fruits and vegetables. Bangladesh Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (BCSIR) has developed spirulina tablets, which is both a medicine and health food.

Bioprocessing of cereals rich in enzymes, proteins and vitamins are also underway.

Methods for the artificial breeding of fish fry have been developed. Its extension work is being pursued. A few laboratories are working on gene transfer in key crops like rice and jute.

Bangladesh has innovated the technique for large-scale bioremediation (through duckweed) of arsenic from groundwater. Bioindicator (Azolla filiculoidis) for arsenic pollution has been developed.

Use of modern biotechnology (recombinant DNA) is at its infancy in Bangladesh. It is mainly confined to development, standardisation, and vitro culture and micro-propagation of cereals, vegetables and horticultural crops. But embryo rescue and somaclonal variation culture are at the lower spectrum of the biotechnological gradients. The fisheries and livestock sectors have achieved insignificant progress.

Biotechnological development in Bangladesh is at its primary stage.

Lack of infrastructure and shortage of funds and skilled manpower are hindering the progress in biotechnological research.

Again, it cannot be used due to lack of interest among entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are more interested in the import of technology to get quick returns. Initiative and investment are lacking.

Bangladesh needs a clear policy, institutional development and funding for the application of biotechnology to solve the problems in agriculture, industry, health and environment. Integration of molecular and cellular biology with conventional breeding technologies can be used for the development of new crop varieties, improvement of feed and livestock. It can help health and energy sectors. Recombinant DNA technology would be of multiple use including the development of genetically modified organisms.

(The writer is a student of Gono Bishwabidyalay, Savar, Dhaka)

Bangladesh readies flood-tolerant rice

Bangladesh readies flood-tolerant rice
3 varieties to prevent a million tonnes of crop loss a year

Reaz Ahmad

Bangladesh is set to officially release three flood-tolerant rice varieties that would help farmers prevent up to a million tonnes of annual crop loss caused by flash floods, researches said.

Officials concerned told The Daily Star that these rice varieties with submergence-tolerant gene, known as Sub1, can withstand two weeks of complete submergence.

“In September, we applied to the Seed Certification Agency for release of the three submergence-tolerant varieties, Swarna-Sub1, BR-11-Sub1, and BR-11-Recombinant-Sub1. Once the Agency completes its field evaluations, these varieties will be officially released, hopefully this year,” said Khandakar Iftekharuddaula, principal investigator of the project of Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI). The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation supports the project.

The flood-tolerant versions of the high-yielding varieties (HYVs), popular with farmers and consumers, that are grown over huge areas across Bangladesh are effectively identical to their susceptible counterparts but those recover after severe flooding to yield well.

The Sub1 varieties withstood submergence quite well during this year’s flash floods in Jamalpur’s Dewanganj, Kurigram’s Kachir Char, Mymensingh’s Dhobaura and Sylhet’s Golapganj, said Iftekharuddaula, who is the mastermind behind getting the Sub1 gene into BR-11, the country’s most popular rain-fed aman rice variety.

The Sub1 varieties have been tested in six BRRI fields and nine farmers’ fields over the last couple of years and all results show positive signs.

During a recent visit to one such field in Rangpur’s Darshona, it was found that 35 farmers on trial cultivated Swarna-Sub1 on 19 acres.

MA Mazid, former chief of the BRRI Regional Station in Rangpur, told The Daily Star that Sub1 at Darshona remained unharmed despite being completely submerged for nine to 16 days this year.

Mazid, who now heads Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia, one of the eight hubs of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), said 65 percent farmers cultivate BR-11 during aman season, which is susceptible to flash floods or rainwater over 10 days. “So the Sub1 varieties now hold the potential to become a good replacement for BR-11.”

There are four different Sub1 varieties, IR-64- Sub1, Samba Mahsuri-Sub1, BR-11-Sub1, and Swarna-Sub1, at the Darshona trial site. Of these four, the former two are relatively shorter-duration rice while the later two takes a long time to harvest.

The new varieties were made possible following the identification of a single gene that is responsible for most of the submergence tolerance. In 1995, David Mackill, then at the University of California (UC) at Davis, and Kenong Xu, his graduate student, pinpointed the gene in a low-yielding traditional Indian rice variety known to withstand floods. Xu subsequently worked as a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Pamela Ronald, a UC Davis professor, and they isolated the specific gene called Sub1A and demonstrated that it confers tolerance to normally intolerant rice plants.

David Mackill, who now heads the Plant Breeding, Genetics and Biotechnology Division of IRRI, along with Pamela Ronald visited the Rangpur site of Sub1 varieties November last year.

“The potential for impact is huge,” David said during his Bangladesh visit. “In Bangladesh, for example, 20 percent of the rice land is flood prone and the country typically suffers several major floods each year. Submergence-tolerant varieties could make major inroads into Bangladesh’s annual rice shortfall and substantially reduce its import needs.”

BRRI’s rice scientist Khandakar Md Iftekharuddaula worked as a postdoctoral fellow with Mackill and got the gene responsible for submergence tolerance into BR-11 early 2007.

Zeba I Seraj, a professor at Dhaka University’s biochemistry and molecular biology department, explained to The Daily Star how Sub1 works. “As water inundates rice fields, Sub1 gene helps rice plants remain ‘metabolically inert’ for up to two weeks; thereby, keeping the plants unaffected. But if the water remain stagnant for a longer duration, it will not be possible for the crop to withstand.”

Zeba, who has been working for years on different stress-tolerant rice varieties, said farmers would be benefited if the submergence tolerant rice varieties are released soon.

The Philippines released its first submergence-tolerant rice variety, Submarino 1, in July this year.

Faster growing variety of HYV rice

Faster growing variety of HYV rice
Hats off to scientists behind the development

THE agricultural scientists of the country have made a major breakthrough in developing two other types of High Yielding Variety (HYV) rice, which are especially suited to fight famine-like situation called monga in some northern districts of the country. These varieties of rice called BR-11 dhan-33 and BINA dhan-7 mature in less than four months, 115 days to be exact, and thus can be harvested one month ahead of the customary aman crop of the HYV group, namely the BR-11, which the framers have been growing since long.

This is certainly great news for the poor, landless and marginal farmers who had to remain idle for non-availability of on-farm jobs after mid-September when the aman plantation does usually end. For then usually begins the two gruelling months of monga forcing the farm labourers to eat up their food stock, sell their assets or get snared into the bondage of the loan sharks of the locality. Thus losing everything, many of them had to look for off-farm jobs in other districts.

Earlier, the government and the non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) would take various other measures to create short-term employment and launch feeding programmes to help out the people during these lean months. Against this backdrop, the newly developed HYV seed now show a more sustainable way to tackle the situation through introducing another rice cropping season before the next one begins.

Adding another crop to the existing ones will therefore not only come to the rescue of the monga-hit farm labourers, it would also go to augment the total volume of food grains produced in the country.

The scientists behind this advancement in the field of agricultural research have therefore achieved an admirable feat for which they deserve the laurels due to them. It has to be added here that through earlier discoveries in the field of rice research, the scientists had developed other HYV seeds that had gone a long way in reducing food deficit and strengthening the foundation of food security in the country.

While appreciating our scientists for their contribution to the nation in solving its overriding problems like increasing crop production and job creation, it is hoped that they would also put their talents into developing crops that can adapt themselves to the conditions of climate change now staring the nation in the face. At the same time, the government, too, should come in a big way to bolster agricultural research in all possible ways.

New rice tames Monga

New rice tames Monga
Two short-duration varieties bring relief to marginal farmers, farm labourers in greater Rangpur

Early harvest of short duration rice variety BR-33 brings hope of food in the lean season and job opportunity for marginal farmers and farm labourers in the monga-prone northern areas like Dharmadas village in Rangpur. Photo: SK Enamul Haq

Reaz Ahmad with Rafique Sarker

Gone are the days when Monga (seasonal and localised famine) used to stalk the landless farm labourers and marginal farmers of five northern districts during the lean period of October-November each year.

Thanks to modern rice science that has bred short-duration varieties like BRRI dhan-33 and BINA dhan-7 much to the relief of over 37 lakh hard-hit poor, who have now started saying goodbye to Monga.

Both the high yielding rice varieties (HYVs) mature in 115 days and can be harvested at least a month before the other HYV — BR11– that farmers have been growing so far during aman season.

Early harvesting of the new varieties this year in as much as 44,000 hectares of land in the five Monga-prone districts of greater Rangpur has successfully absorbed the farm labourers and marginal farmers, who otherwise remain unemployed due to lack of farm activities in this lean period of the year. The five districts are Rangpur, Gaibandha, Lalmonirhat, Kurigram and Nilphamari.

On top of the rice scientists’ success in breeding short-duration varieties, non-government initiatives are also there to help farmers in the Teesta chars build ‘Rice Banks’, an innovative way of lending rice to the needy under a cooperative arrangement.

Previously, farm labourers had to remain idle for lack of on-farm jobs when aman paddy plantation ends by mid-September, and Monga forced a large number of them to leave for other districts in search of employment. By early October, marginal farmers also used to exhaust their stock of paddy for family consumption, and this forced them to starve or sell land for buying food.

Dr Md Abdul Jalil Mridha, who heads Rangpur Regional Station of Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI), told The Daily Star that efforts are on to bring over one lakh hectares of land in the five districts under short-duration rice cultivation during aman season by 2010-11. This would help the 37 lakh farm labourers and marginal farmers conquer the seasonal famine once for all.

“This will require providing the farmers with 4,280 tonnes of seeds so that they can cover 1,07,000 hectares of land, as targeted by the government, by 2010-11,” said Dr Mridha.

With support from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Bangladesh Institute of Nuclear Agriculture (BINA) in Mymensingh developed BINA dhan-7, and the variety got approval from the National Seed Board in 2007.

During a field day programme at Joyrampur Anwar village in Rangpur’s Mithapukur upazila recently, Chief Scientific Officer (plant breeding) of BINA Dr Md Ali Azam said, “BINA dhan-7 is an early harvest variety. It can be harvested in mid-October. Massive cultivation of this rice can create job opportunity for the farm labourers during October and November, thereby stumping out Monga from the region completely.”

Dr M A Mazid, who heads one of the eight hubs of the International Rice Research Institute’s flagship programme — Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA)– said the short-duration aman rice varieties hold the prospect of farmers’ growing potato right in time before they go for the next big rice season — boro.

While visiting Char Dushmara, a remote Teesta char under Kounia upazila in Rangpur, these correspondents talked to Rahima Khatun, whose husband Abdul Monnaf is a farm labourer without having any land of their own.

Rahima said unlike the Monga period in previous years, this time they did not have to go unfed as her husband cultivated short-duration aman under share-cropping arrangement in one and half acres of land. They harvested the rice a few days ago.

Her neighbour Abdur Rahman had the same happy experience to share. Rahman recalled that in the previous years he along with other villagers used to go to Bogra in search of work during Aswhin and Kartik (Monga period in Bangla calendar). This time he did not go to Bogra as he found work in his own area.

Moreover, poor people in the char areas now feel less vulnerable because of the building of ‘Rice Banks.’ Under an NGO-initiative, marginal farmers form groups of 25 people each and get a one-time rice stock of one tonne to lend to any one of them who needs it badly.

Fuad Ahmed Khan, a monitoring officer of Rangpur Dinajpur Rural Service, who overseas a climate change coping project in Char Dushmara, said each member of ‘Rice Bank’ groups can take one maund of rice as loan and return the same with two to five kg interest, as determined by the groups, when crops are harvested.

New variety of paddy BINA-7 developed: 10 lakh tonnes more Aman can be grown in Monga-hit dists

New variety of paddy BINA-7 developed: 10 lakh tonnes more Aman can be grown in Monga-hit dists

Md Antaz Miah, a farmer of Dimla village in Rangpur seen with the fast-growing BINA-7 paddy in his field. NN photo

Md Antaz Miah, a farmer of Dimla village in Rangpur seen with the fast-growing BINA-7 paddy in his field. NN photo

Shamim Jahangir from Rangpur

Farmers in eight monga prone districts will be able to produce an additional 10 lakh tons of Aman paddy within a couple years by cultivating a new variety of paddy (BINA-7) developed by the Bangladesh Institute of Nuclear Agriculture (BINA).

This was disclosed at a field level demonstration of BINA-7 at Mithapukur upazila in Rangpur yesterday.

Md Antaz Miah, a farmer of Dimla village in Rangpur Sadar told The New Nation that he cultivated BINA-7 in his several acres of land.

“I have got tremendous result from my paddy field,” he said adding that he has produced nearly 7 tons of paddy per hectare on his land.” It was only 4 tons per hectore with in traditional BRRI-33 variety from the same land last year.

Mokhlesur Rahman, another farmer in Kawnia village in Mithapukur upazila said he has been benefited by cultivating BINA-7. “Production cost of BINA-7 is comparatively lower from traditional Aman varieties as it can be produced only in 110 days.

“We need proper help from Department of Agriculture Extension officials to disseminate the variety at monga prone areas,” he said.

Scientists of Bangladesh Institute of Nuclear Agriculture (BINA), who developed the new Aman variety BINA-7, said that farmers can get an additional two tons of yield per hectare of Aman over the traditional variety.

A total of 10,000 hectares of land came under BINA-7 cultivation in eight monga prone districts this year, an official of Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) said.

“We expect to get 50,000 tons of rice from 10,000 hectares of paddy field,” he said adding that it was only 35,000 tons from the same paddy field of BRRI-33 variety on an average.”

Farmers in the monga areas will feel encouraged to cultivate BINA-7 as they are able to get yields from the variety within 110 days whereas other varieties needed 30 more days, BINA scientist Dr Md Ali Azam, who developed the variety, told The New Nation yesterday.

“I have developed BINA-7 variety in cooperation with my associate after long nine years research in BINA,” Dr. Azam said, adding that the farmers feel encouraged to produce BINA-7 as the BINA-7 has more disease resistance capacity from other Aman varieties.

He said that farmers can overcome monga by cultivating the variety as the BINA-7 can be cultivated not only in Aman season but also all over the whole year. He said that the Aman production can be raised to two crore tons by disseminating the variety. It will help ensure food security of the country, he hoped.

A total of 7, 86,885 lands came under Aman cultivation this year in greater Rangpur region, sources said.

Submergence tolerant rice-BR-11-sub-1 to be released this year

Submergence tolerant rice-BR-11-sub-1 to be released this year

DHAKA, Bangladesh, Sept 10 (BSS)- The first ever submergence tolerant rice-BR-11-sub-1 jointly developed by the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) and International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is expected to release this year.

“The variety of rice would be released this year, if we could complete the experiment of the variety of rice successfully”, Director (research) of BRRI Dr MA Salam told BSS in an exclusive interview.

He said the work for innovating submergence tolerant variety was started with joint initiative of the BRRI and the IRRI in 2005-06 in order to develop submergence tolerant rice by transplanting submergence gene to BR-11 dhan.

The evaluation team of the National Seed Board will go at field level experiment on the variety this year and they will submit the report to the Technical committee for releasing the variety.

Referring to the field level experiment of BR-11- sub-1, Director General of Seed Wing of the Ministry of Agriculture Anwar Faruque said it was very effective last year and the variety will be formally released this year, if the field level experiments are completed successfully.

He said, “We have already distributed the seed of the variety at farmer levels this year and we expect it will be leased in
December next.”

Anwar Faruque said the newly developed variety will go for wide scale cultivation next year as farmers would easily produce the seeds of the variety.

The newly developed BR-11-sub-1 looks exactly like BR-11, Dr. Salam said adding the production rate, lifetime and height between BR- 11 and BR-11-sub-1 is same.

He said the average production rate of both the varieties is five metric tons per hectare.

He said BR-11 is cultivated in about 40 percent land among the total rice cultivation in the country during Aman season. But nearly 80 percent of cultivated BR-11 rice got damaged, in a submerged condition, he added.

As a result, Dr Salam said, every year huge quantity of rice are damaged as low-lying areas get affected by flash flood.

He said the BRRI is giving priority to develop stress tolerant rice with a view to increase rice production in the country.

Describing the variety BR-11-sub-1 as remarkable progress in the country’s rice development history, Dr Salam said it will keep a very significant contribution in further increasing the Aman production leading to ensuring food security in the country.

According to the study, the newly developed submerged variety can survive maximum 18 days after inundation of water, said Dr Salam adding but it depends on quality of water, temperature as well as environment.

He said the longevity of the submerged rice plants would increase if the water is clean, but in case of muddy water its longevity would decrease.

The BRRI along with a numbers of private organizations would work to produce seeds for field level cultivation of the variety.

A total of 70 ‘baby trials’ would be taken place for producing seeds this year, he said adding ‘mother trial’ would also be carried out for seed production.

Scientists unveil solar water pumps

Scientists unveil solar water pumps
Star Business Report

Dhaka University scientists have developed a solar pump by using locally available technologies to help bring more land under irrigation and reduce dependency on diesel- and electricity- driven water pumps in crop fields.

“Solar irrigation pumps can play a significant role in cutting demand for electricity and diesel as well as irrigate a vast portion of lands that are devoid of irrigation facilities,” Prof Dr NC Bhowmik, project director of Development of Solar Pumping for Irrigation, told a press conference.

The researchers at the Renewable Energy Research Centre, Dhaka University developed the pumps under a project funded by the Ministry of Science, Information and Communication Technology.

Associate Project Directors Prof Dr Saiful Huque and Dr Md Habibur Rahman were also present at the briefing.

The cost of installing these locally developed solar pumps will be less than the cost for the imported ones. Repair and maintenance costs will also be lower than the imported solar water pumps, they added.

Boro rice is the country’s largest harvest, the production of which is largely dependent on proper irrigation facilities.

Irrigation facilities are paramount to ensuring smooth plantation during the current Aman season due to scanty monsoon rain in June and the first half of July.

Bhowmik said, “Around 35 percent of arable land falls under various irrigation projects, with electricity driven pumps covering only a fourth of total irrigation requirements. Diesel based water pumps are used for the remaining.”

The Dhaka University professor said the 65 percent lands that are void of irrigation facilities could be brought under the irrigation network by using solar water pumps.

“It will enhance crop production,” he said, suggesting that diesel run water pumps could be replaced with solar pumps to save foreign currency.

However, the cost of installing a solar water pump remains high. It would cost about Tk 3,75,000 to install a solar pump with one horsepower capacity, with which a farmer is expected to irrigate about 10 acres of land, the press meet was also told.

It would cost Tk 7,00,000 to install a solar water pump with a capacity of two horsepower, Tk 13,18,000 for four horsepower and Tk 20,00,000 for six horsepower.

“The government should give incentives to install solar water pumps in the same way it helps with fertiliser and electricity,” said Bhowmik.

Researchers said farmers can easily install and change the pumps whenever necessary because it is made using local pumps. It will also enable farmers to light their homes at night, when irrigation is not needed on the fields, he added.

New BRRI hybrid dhan-3 to be released very soon

New BRRI hybrid dhan-3 to be released very soon

BSS, Dhaka

The newly innovated hybrid Boro paddy- BRRI Hybrid Dhan-3-with shorter lifetime and lower production cost is expected to release very soon.

The authorities concerned is set give the final approval for releasing the variety for commercial production within next one or two months, director (administration) of the BRRI Dr A W Julfikar said while talking to BSS yesterday.

Since its inception in 1970, the BRRI has developed a total of 51 varieties of paddy, including two hybrid for Boro season.

He said both BRRI-hybrid dhan-1 and BRRI-hybrid dhan-2, being planted during the Boro season, have been making tremendous contribution toward increasing rice production. The lifetimes of the first two hybrids are ranging between 150 and 155 days, he said adding that lifetime of newly developed BRRI hybrid dhan-3, also for Boro season, is about 10 days less than that of the two.

Dr Julfiqar said the newly developed hybrid is a one step forward in the history of the country’s hybrid technology. He said the variety is expected to make a significant boost in the production Boro rice ensuring further food security in the country.

He said the per hectare production of BRRI hybrid- 1 is over eight metric tons and BRRI hybrid-2 at 8.5 tons while the yield rate of newly innovated variety is slightly higher than that of the first two.

Director (research) of BRRI Dr MA Salam said, “We expect the BRRI hybrid-3 would be popularized to the farmers because of its short lifetime”.

He said the shorter life span of the variety would reduce irrigation and other production costs.

On the other hand, the BRRI director said, the varieties with longer lifetimes are vulnerable to flash flood and other natural calamities inflicting frequent damage to cultivators. Dr Salam said the BRRI is working to develop new yielding of rice suiting ecology as well as tolerant to natural calamities. He said farmers could minimize their losses by cultivating of BRRI hybrid dhan-3 due to its short lifetime. Dr Salam said though Bangladesh is the fourth largest rice producing country of the world, the average production of rice in the country is 4.01 tonnes per hectare. The average production of rice in China, Japan and Korea is 5 to 6 tonnes per hectare. There is no alternative of developing high yielding modern varieties as well as modern technology for increasing production rate in the country to the meet growing demand for food, he added.

The hybrid rice technology was basically introduced in Bangladesh in 2001, the official sources said. The first hybrid-BRRI hybrid-1 was also released for commercial cultivation in the same year.

High yielding Aman developed by BRRI to go for cultivation next season

High yielding Aman developed by BRRI to go for cultivation next season

BSS, Dhaka

The first ever high-yielding Aman hybrid developed by the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) is to go for cultivation in the next Aman season.

The variety, now in the final stage of its development, is expected to make a significant contribution in further increasing the Aman production leading to ensuring food security in the country.

In an interview with BSS here on Wednesday, Dr Md. Firoze Shah Sikder, Director General of the BRRI, said the BRRI is also developing two more submerged tolerant varieties to bring vast tracts of lands under rice cultivation in the low-lying areas for achieving a total self-sufficiency in food in the country.

“The government has given approval for cultivation of four high-yielding modern varieties developed by the BRRI in 2008,” he said. The varieties are: BRRI dhan-48, BRRI dhan-49, BRRI dhan-50 and Hybrid-2.

The BRRI officials said the production rate of BRRI dhan-48, BRRI dhan-50 and Hybrid-2 are 5 tonnes, 6.5 tonnes and 8.50 tonnes respectively per hectare. Besides, the production rate of BRRI dhan-49 is higher by half a tonne than that of BR-11 and one tonne than BRRI-32.

Director (research) of BRRI Dr MA Salam said the BRRI has also developed flood and salinity tolerant varieties to bring fallow lands under rice cultivation along the coastal belt and in the low-lying areas aiming to ensure food security.

The variety of BR-11-sub1 can survive for even 15 days if submerged by flood waters while the BRRI dhan-46 could also be cultivated even after recession of a prolonged flood, he said.

Describing the development of these varieties by the BRRI as a remarkable progress for achieving food security in the country, Dr Salam said, “We will cultivate these two varieties after accomplishing some formalities.”

The BRRI has developed a variety named BRRI Boro-47 for cultivation in the coastal area, he said adding that initially the variety would be cultivated in lands with low salinity and then it would be cultivated in lands with high salinity.

Dr Salam said only development of high-yielding modern variety is not enough for achieving food security in the country, rather modern technology is needed for increase of rice production up to the expected level.

Taking this reality into consideration, BRRI has developed a total of 50 technologies for use in soil, water and fertilizer management to boost rice production in the country.

Dr Salam said though Bangladesh is the fourth largest rice producing country of the world, the average production of rice in the country is 4.01 tonnes per hectare.

The average production of rice in China, Japan and Korea is 5 to 6 tonnes per hectare.

There is no alternative to developing high yielding modern varieties as well as modern technology for increasing of production rate in the country to the meet growing demand for food, he added.

The officials said the high-yielding modern varieties developed by the BRRI in 1980s and 1990s are suitable for varying ecosystem and have wide range of diseases and insect resistance.

Such varieties-BR 17, BR 18 and BR 19-have been developed for the Boro areas (depressed basin) in the north-eastern region of Bangladesh, BR 20 and BR 21 for high rainfall upland situation, BR 22 and BR 23 for late transplanting in the Aman season after the recession of flood waters.

Besides, BRRI dhan 27 has been developed for the non-saline tidal areas and BRRI dhan 30, BRRI dhan 31 and BRRI dhan 32 for the rain-fed lowland areas.

Students eager to show off robotic skills

Asia-Pacific Robot Contest 2009
Students eager to show off robotic skills

Buet students and their teacher test robots at the laboratory of mechanical engineering department. Photo: STAR

Buet students and their teacher test robots at the laboratory of mechanical engineering department. Photo: STAR

Ershad Kamol

The Bangladesh team is set to show off their robotic skills in the upcoming ABU Asia-Pacific Robot Contest 2009 to be held in Tokyo, Japan in August.

The team comprising the students of mechanical engineering department of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet) has developed three highly technically advanced robots, which are ready for shipment to Japan for participation in the contest.

These autonomous robots can move through steep slopes and sharply winding roads to a certain destination and can take further decisions after reaching the goal. No camera is installed with the robots to reach the target, rather these robots function through pre-programmed control system.

In the competition that will take place at the gymnasium of the Metropolitan Komazawa Olympic Park in Tokyo on August 21 and 22, the Bangladesh team will compete with 21 teams from technically advanced countries of the Asia-Pacific region, including Japan, China, India, South Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand and Egypt.

The Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU) has been organising this competition annually since 2002. The event is widely known as ABU Robocon, which is an international educational event with a fresh and unique concept for university, college, and polytechnic students in the Asia Pacific region.

The four-member Bangladeshi team comprising three students and a teacher will leave Dhaka on August 20. Saiful Islam Mithu is the team leader while Mezbahur Rahman Evan and Omar Bin Yusuf are other members of the team. Their teacher Dr M Zahurul Haq will participate in the game as their instructor.

Cooperation between people and robots is the theme of this year’s contest. The technical requirements of this year’s contest is more advanced than the previous years’ arrangement, since the organisers have conceived of this year as a step towards the goal of close cooperation between manual (or directly human-controlled) and automatic robots.

The core item of this year’s contest is Kago, the traditional Japanese palanquin of the pre-modern era, which was used to carry the traditional Samurais by two men, one in front and the other behind, to distant places. Following the tradition, three robots from each participating team will travel a distance in the competition.

Like the Kago carriers of the ancient time, an Automatic Carrier Robot will lead a Manual Carrier Robot to carry a Traveller Robot, which is also an Automatic Robot, on a replica of a Kago to a distance of about 80 metres through replicas of mountains, steep slopes, and sharply winding roads. At the end the robots will reach a bell and the traveller robot will have to ring the bell.

“That is not an easy challenge,” said Dr M Zahurul Haq. “During the three-minute delicate game, everything will have to be done by the robots without any intervention from the participants.”

“This year’s competition is really challenging because some conditions of the game such as the carrier robots will not be allowed to touch the surface except the zigzag path through slopes and they must adjust the seat of the Traveller Robot so that it does not slide or fall even if the seat is inclined by 20 degrees in either the longitudinal or the transverse direction during the travel,” he adds.

According to Dr M Zahurul Haq, Bangladeshi robots will be able to maintain all the requirements of the game, since the robots are more intelligent and well controlled.

“The automatic robots developed for the competition will be controlled through high-speed censor-based communication system. The control system receives 1000 commands per second for taking the corrective measures during the game, earlier the movement of the robots was movement dependent,” he said.

Buet students have been participating in this annual competition since 2005 and won the prestigious Panasonic Award in the Robocon contest in 2005.

All these robots have been developed under a regular project for the undergraduate students of the department of Mechanical Engineering at Buet.

This year, about 12 students under the supervision of Dr Haq have developed these robots with used motor parts, aluminum sheet, nylon fibre, steel sheet and other materials collected from the city’s Dholaikhal and Patuatuli areas. Importing the micro-controller chips and hardware from the US, Dr Haq developed the control system.

On the limitations of developing robots here, Dr Haq said that they have to use reverse engineering due to lack of raw materials in the country.

“We collect the used motor parts and censors from old Dhaka and design the robots based on the shape and capacity of these components. High-speed communication system and other chips have to be collected from the US,” he added.

He said there is a huge scope for the industrial applications of robots in delicate and repetitive works in Bangladesh. Moreover, robots can be used to develop the defence system of the country such as mine detection purpose.

For sustainable development of robotics in the country, Dr Haq suggested that the industry be developed gradually in different phases.