Remove barriers on Indo-Bangla rice seed trading

Dhaka Tribune, December 23, 2013
Formalising rice seed trading between the two countries would ensure the availability

Formalisation of rice seeds trading between India and Bangladesh is necessary to meet farmers’ demands in ensuring the quality of rice, said speakers. They said this while addressing an international press conference titled “Addressing Barriers to Rice Seeds Trade between India and Bangladesh” in the capital’s Brac Centre Inn, yesterday. The conference was jointly organised by CUTS International of India and Unnayan Shamannay, and supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation.

Bipul Chatterjee, the deputy executive secretary of CUTS International, said, “Rice is the staple for both countries so a sustainable production is important for the growing population. There is a lot of informal trading of rice seeds in the bordering areas and a large area is used for the cultivation of informally traded seeds such as Miniket and Swarna.”

Formalising rice seed trading between the two countries would ensure the availability and accessibility of quality seeds and at an affordable price to farmers. There was scope for such cooperation because of the similar agro-climate condition of the two countries, he added. AH Iqbal Ahmed, the director of Seed Certification Agency, said the demand and supply gap of rice seeds among the farmers of Bangladesh is met by the import of Chinese hybrid seeds, as Indian hybrid seeds are not performing well. “Indian scientists should invest more on research to give farmers a larger variety of hybrid seeds,” he added.

A study made by CUTS International and Unnayan Shamannay revealed that during the Amon season Indian Swarna variety dominated at least 70% of the cultivated areas in Bangladesh and Bangladeshi varieties such as BR-11 and BR-12 were being used in Assam and other Eastern states of India during Boro season.

The key points of such trade were Jessore, Lalmonirhat, Rajshahi, Kushtia and other areas. Small local syndicates usually do the informal trading with farmers. Swapan K Datta, the deputy director general (Crop Sciences) of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, said farmers were not being benefitted by the low quality seeds they received through informal trading.

India has strict regulations and policies against importing rice seeds. It is difficult for farmers to complete the processes required to import seeds legally. Director General Anwar Fauque, of the Seed Wing of the agriculture ministry, said the government was trying to accelerate the speed of seed trade among Saarc nations to ensure quality rice production in the South Asian region.

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