Important stakeholders from India and Bangladesh at a meeting in New Delhi today called for the two countries to make urgent efforts to formalise the existing trade between their farmers in high yielding varieties of rice seeds. Such a step, they said, could be a catalyst for even closer cooperation between the two South Asian nations, particularly between Bangladesh and the eastern states of India, and make an important contribution to their food security.
Their call came at the conclusion of a landmark two-year-long research and advocacy project by CUTS International, called ‘Addressing Barriers to Rice Seeds Trade between India and Bangladesh’ with the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The highlight of the dissemination meeting was the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Bangladesh Seeds Association (BSA) and the National Seed Association of India (NSAI).
MoU was signed by Kalyan Goswami, Executive Director, NSAI and Syed AKM Asadul Amin Dadan, General Secretary, BSA in the presence of more than 50 participants representing Indian and Bangladeshi seeds companies, research organisations, NGOs, academia and media.
This MoU will facilitate traders, exporters and importers of both the countries to initiate the cross-border trade in HYV rice seeds. It will also enable a favourable environment for the knowledge-sharing in HYV rice seeds production and trade.
“Presently there is no formal trade in high yielding varieties (HYV) of rice seed. A proper understanding of the dynamics of bilateral trade relations is very important for ensuring greater cooperation in agriculture between Bangladesh and India. This calls for analysing factors that can enable the formalisation of rice seeds trade and knowledge-sharing”, said Salahuddin Noman Chowdhury, Deputy High Commissioner of Bangladesh in India.
Congratulating CUTS for playing a catalytic role in enhancing collaboration between the seed sectors in India and Bangladesh, Rajesh Kumar Singh, Joint Secretary (Seeds), Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India said, “Many new and promising rice varieties have been developed in India through National Agriculture Research System. Similarly in Bangladesh, many promising rice varieties have been developed through their research system. It would be better if rice varieties released in one country may be made expeditiously available for cultivation in neighbouring countries having similar agro climatic conditions so that farmers in the region may get benefits from these varieties”.
“In Bangladesh and India, serious problem with regard to making variety rice seeds available and accessible to farmers are noticed. Significant gap exists between demand and supplies of most desired and adaptable varieties. Increased cooperation between the two countries can significantly improve the situation”, said Bipul Chatterjee, Deputy Executive Director of CUTS International. Mismatch between demand and supply often results in use of regenerated rice seeds for several years, compromising rice yield and productivity and lead to informal rice seeds trade, he further added.
Suresh P Singh, Policy Analyst CUTS International and Mahfuz Kabir, Senior Research Fellow, Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies presented their work on this subject. Both the speakers highlighted that in the light of recently signed protocol among Bangladesh, India and Nepal, which has created a space for the release of varieties developed by one country in others, there is need for mapping the processes through which formal trade and cooperation could be realised.
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