3.5 million farmers likely to pick 25% higher rice yield from new project

http://www.bssnews.net/newsDetails.php?cat=0&id=164688&date=2011-03-04

3.5 million farmers likely to pick 25% higher rice yield from new project

DHAKA, March 4 (BSS) – An estimated 3.5 million farmers of 11 districts of the country are expected to reap high benefit from a donor-funded new project that assures of raising rice production by 25 percent.

Agriculture Minister Begum Motia Chowdhury along with the US Ambassador to Bangladesh, James F Moriarty will launch the project in Nalitabari, Sherpur tomorrow, official sources said here today.

According to project managers, farmers will see an income rise of Taka 15,000 from one hectare of land that would yield an additional 800 kg of paddy with one- third less uses of fertilizers.

The project promotes diffusion of fertilizer deep placement (FDP) technology, an innovation that claims to be highly suitable for rice production by efficient uses of chemical fertilizers—placing fertilizer granules near root zones of the plant. It will also focus on efficient uses of other agricultural inputs, including quality seeds and judicious use of water for higher land productivity.

The land productivity, according to the project profile, has fallen drastically in the past decades by the existing cropping pattern and intensity, losing an average two million metric tones of soil nutrients every year. It says deficiency of phosphorus and potassium in soil is on the rise.

“Farmers try to cover the soil nutrient losses through application of nitrogenous fertilizer which fails to attain objective and results in declining soil nutrient status of arable lands,” a senior official said.

Not only that, he said, the conventional use of urea fertilizer on land surface causes a 65 percent loss of nitrogen which in compound form is added to plants or lawns to stimulate growth.

Plants that do not have enough nitrogen turn yellow and eventually perish from a lack of food. The FDP technology prevents nitrogen losses by 50 percent.

The staple rice production in Bangladesh, the 6th largest rice producer in Asia, is a crucial part of the national economy, accounting for about 75 percent of agricultural land use and 28 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). Its production increased year on year but the annual increases have generally been modest.

In 2010 paddy production hit a record level of 50.3 million tonnes, about 4 percent higher than the previous year’s record crop. But the 1.5 increase of population every year and soaring price of rice in the world market have compelled Bangladesh to go for production of more rice for ensuring food security-if not food sovereignty at this stage.

High yielding varieties from abroad have been tried in research sites to adapt those with local environment. The new project- co-financed by the U.S- is expected to add more value to government endeavours, project managers said.

The project-Accelerating Agriculture Productivity Improvement (AAPI)- will initially be tried in the districts of Barisal, Pirojpur, Jhalokathi, Patuakhali, Borguna, Bagerhat, Madaripur, Shariatpur, Gopalganj, Mymensingh and Sherpur.

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