Formalising rice seed trading between the two countries would ensure the availability
Bangladesh and India should accept high-yielding variety (HYV) rice seeds as a potential area of cooperation as the collaboration in this area is ‘almost negligible’, says a recent study.
The study indicates that availability and accessibility of rice seeds can significantly be improved through cooperation between the two next door neighbours.
Rice is a staple food for the people of the two countries, and therefore, food security of the two nations is largely dependent on its availability.
The study titled ‘Addressing Barriers to Rise Seeds Trade between India and Bangladesh’ suggests that there is a need for bringing in necessary changes in policies and regulations.
“Despite several instances of informal movement of HYV rice across the border, formal trade is conspicuous by its absence,” says the joint communiqué published by the CUTS Center for International Trade, Economic and Environment, India and Unnayan Shamannay on the study.
In the absence of formal trade, the issue of timely availability and accessibility to HYV rice seed persists and this leads to informal flow of substantial quantity of HYV rice seeds, it observes.
This, along with other factors, pushes farmers to use ‘farmer saved seeds’, compromising crop yields and consequent to this their food security, it says.
The study suggests that formalizing HYV rice seed trade between the two countries will take agricultural cooperation to a higher level, and would also make quality seed available and more accessible at an affordable price to farmers.
“There’s a great scope for developing and releasing stress-tolerant varieties in both the countries. Such efforts could help effectively address the adverse impact of climate change on poverty and food security,” it says explaining how cooperation in HYV rice seed can be useful.
Such cooperation, the study says, will also be useful in making food accessible even in the context of volatility in the global food grain market.
It observes that any policy shift, even short term ones, can have significant impact on a large number of people in Bangladesh and India. “Both the countries, being huge consumers of food, can’t continue to be insensitive to the dynamic of change in the food market and the potential role of cooperation between the two countries in this area,” it observes.
Small farmers in both India and Bangladesh suffer from low agricultural productivity. Increasing crop productivity is, therefore, one of the major challenges faced by these farmers.
Given the level of poverty and the imperative of agricultural growth in poverty reduction, this is particularly important in Eastern India and in Bangladesh.
Statistical evidences show that not only that the productivity of small-holder farmers is low in Eastern India and Bangladesh but also, and as compared to other products and other regions of India, it is less in case of rice production, the most important staple crop in these regions.
Even though the adoption of high-yielding (inbred or hybrid) varieties of seeds is quite high among small farmers in both eastern part of India and Bangladesh.
The study project made an attempt to understand the factors which lead to (1) low productivity of rice in the identified regions; (2) low rice seed trade between India and Bangladesh; and (3) how can the situation improve?.
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