Bangladesh has not only embraced nuclear power but also other peaceful nuclear technologies especially in the field of agriculture. Nuclear Technologies are responsible for 50 lakh tons of crops produced in the country – in terms of a percentage it is 8 per cent of the total crop production in Bangladesh.
Till now Bangladesh scientists have developed 107 varieties of crops to boost agriculture production in the country. The efforts of Bangladesh scientists are driven by the fact that the population of the country was 163.05 million and this makes it the 8th most populous country in the world. Bangladesh is expected to reach a population of 170 million by 2020 and 186 million by 2030. Nuclear technologies are coming to aid to feed the increasing population.
Bangladesh Institute for Nuclear Agriculture (BINA) is the organization which is playing the principal role in developing the adaptive crop varieties. The organization has developed many breeds of rice, wheat, pulse, oil-seed, spice, various fruits and other crops since its birth.
“BINA is working on to meet the country’s food demand. BINA has played vital role in it by developing high-yielding and adaptive rice breeds that can survive in a given hostile environment,” Dr. Mirza Mofazzal Islam, the Chief Scientific Officer and Head of Plant Breeding Department of BINA told Nuclear Asia. Such adaptive breeds of rice are constantly being introduced considering the country has many hostile climate conditions persisting in different parts of the country. BINA is now working on another challenge that is to develop such breeds which will require less land, less water yet can provide high-yield.
The crop varieties introduced by BINA are helping the country in boosting its crop production but it also plays a vital role in poverty reduction and increase the living standards of farmers across the country. The farmers’ have been losing out huge parts of their crops due to the adverse effect of the climate change as some parts of the country are experiencing excessive salinity in the coastal areas that has turned around 10,00,000 acres of land barren. A report from International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says that excessive salinity of the coastal areas of Bangladesh will force an alarming 2.70 million people of the coastal areas to migrate elsewhere by 2050.
However, BINA has developed rice breeds that can tolerate such hostile conditions of the coastal barren lands and those breeds can yield as much as 60,00,000 tons of more rice if properly utilized. BINA-8 and BINA-10 are the rice breeds developed by BINA are saline water tolerant and the cultivation has of such breeds in the coastal areas has been successful in the recent years.
Before the introduction of BINA’s salinity tolerant rice breeds, there were only a few breeds available that were salinity tolerant such as BRRI-47, 61, 67 which are developed by Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI). BINA’s salinity tolerant breeds are getting popular nowadays and are now cultivated in Faridpur, Gopalganj, Satkhira, Khulna, Bagerhat and other coastal areas.
Bangladesh experiences devastating and long-lasting floods every year which resulted in a huge loss of crop production. BINA-11 and 12 are the rice breeds developed by BINA that can tolerate the flood conditions. The breeds can survive submerged in the water of Haors in rainy seasons for up to 25 days; after that time the plants have a capacity to grow again, which have also made the type of breeds flood tolerant. Again, BINA-8, 10 rice breeds are saline water tolerant. These type of rice breeds are proven to be the sole survivors in the extreme conditions of Bangladesh.
The scientists of BINA have been constantly working on to develop such crop varieties that can not only fight with the hostile conditions resulted from climate change, but can also give high-yield.