Nuclear technology is not only helping Bangladesh’s power woes, but are also working to meet its food requirement. The rice variety produced by the Bangladesh Institute of Nuclear Agriculture (BINA) has given a record yield of 7.22 metric tons per hectare this year.

The variety named BINA-16 has been developed by BINA using nuclear technology and is a short duration rice variety. According to the Gopalganj sub-station of BINA, the rice variety was cultivated in some 350 plots covering a total of 120 acres of land in the district. The paddy was harvested from these plots just after 100 days of sowing. Conventional Aman varieties give an average yield of 6.69 tons per hector while BINA-16 has provided a yield of 7.22 tons per hector in just 100 days.

The officer in charge of the BINA sub-station Gopalganj, Md. Shefaur Rahman said that the cultivation of the BINA-16 variety was done under a program called “Invention of Profitable Crop Variety”. “We cultivated the BINA-16 variety in Gopalganj with assistance from agricultural extension program and under the supervision of this sub-station. This year, in the Aman harvesting season, we have got an average yield of 7.22 tons of paddy per hector from the BINA-16 rice variety which is a record around the country,” Rahman added. “The country’s total crop production will increase by a huge margin if Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation starts collecting, storing the seeds of these types of high-efficiency rice varieties and encourage the farmers to cultivate these through agricultural extension programs,” he added.

Rice is the staple food of about 135 million people of Bangladesh. It provides nearly 48 per cent of rural employment, about two-third of total calorie supply and about one-half of the total protein intake of an average person in the country. Rice sector contributes one-half of the agricultural GDP and one-sixth of the national income in Bangladesh.

According to Bangladesh’ Agriculture Ministry, rice production was 36.2 million tonnes in 2018, far above domestic needs (29.1 million). Bangladesh’s research institutes have come up with 94 new varieties of rice. The new seeds were provided to the farmers to boost productivity.

The variety has also got positive reviews from the farmers. “BINA-16 variety has been harvested at least one month before the conventional varieties and it gives us advantage to us in several ways,” said Humayun Khandakar, a farmer from West Majhigati village of Kashiani Upazilla in Gopalganj District. “The early harvesting allows us to sell the paddy at good price in the market and also give us time to cultivate Kolai, Mosur and other winter crops in the same field. The farmers now can cultivate three crops in the same field round the year,” he added explaining the benefits of the short duration rice variety.

The positive sentiments were also echoed by another farmer from the same village, Khandakar Siddique. He said that this rice variety was also disease resistant meaning it required less investment on pesticides and at the same time gave more yield than any other conventional varieties.

Another farmer from the same village, Rejaul Khandakar said: “The seeds of BINA-16 can be easily collected from the harvested paddy. Also, the rice of this variety is thin and tasty.”