Huge scope for India-Bangladesh cooperation on rice seeds trade

April 20, 2013, Kolkata
“Cost of importing rice seeds from India to Bangladesh is less as compared those from other countries. There is informal trade in rice seeds between the two neighbours and that needs to be formalized as farmers on both sides are suffering due to lack of formal trade and marketing channels,” said Abida Islam, Deputy High Commissioner of Bangladesh to India, while delivering Opening Address to the Launch Meeting of a project titled “Trade and Trade-related Regulatory Challenges to Rice Seeds Trade between India and Bangladesh”.

She urged the participants to come out with specific recommendations to pursue both the governments to explore cooperation on rice seeds trade and other areas of agricultural cooperation.

More than 40 participants from different parts of India and Bangladesh, representing different stakeholder groups vis-à-vis rice seeds took part in this meeting held in Kolkata on 19-20 April 2013.

With support from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, CUTS International is implementing this project in four states in Eastern India, viz. Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, West Bengal and in Bangladesh. The objective of the project is to address barriers to rice seeds trade between India and Bangladesh.

Welcoming the participants, Bipul Chatterjee, Deputy Executive Director of CUTS International spoke about current potentiality in rice seeds trade between India and Bangladesh. It is estimated the size of the rice seeds market in Bangladesh which India is in a position to explore is worth US$ six million. He highlighted the need for partnership among Indian and Bangladeshi stakeholders to address trade-related regulatory challenges.

Delivering an Introductory Remarks, Sudhir Chandra Nath, Head of Agriculture and Food Security Programme of BRAC Centre, Bangladesh underlined the need for strong political commitment to agricultural cooperation between the two countries so that there are long-term, sustainable solutions to food security challenges faced by both.

He said that Bangladesh is mostly importing hybrid rice seed varieties from China, which has higher yield than Indian varieties. However, many of those varieties are not suitable to consumption patterns in Bangladesh. There is scope for cooperation between Aman (monsoon rice) and Aush (winter rice) varieties from India to Bangladesh and Boro (summer rice) varieties from Bangladesh to India. Regulatory challenges in respect to phyto-sanitary measures and certification process are to be addressed.

Sushil Pandey, Former Senior Economist in the Social Sciences Department of Manila-based International Rice Research Institute highlighted that for exploring rice seeds trade uniqueness of traded commodities and establishment of comparative advantages in specific varieties are to be studied.

Many participants were of the view that other than gains from rice seeds trade in both the countries, there is a need to understand non-financial gains that are expected to accrue from agricultural cooperation.

Over the next 18 months, CUTS International and its partners will implement this project in partnership with a number of local partners in Bangladesh and India. The major issue to be addressed is how to formalize informal trade in rice seeds which is happening on both sides of the border.
For more information, please contact:
Bipul Chatterjee, +91(0)9829285921,
Suresh Prasad Singh, +91(0)9460736459,