Director General (DG) of International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) Dr Robert Stewart Zeigler has said Bangladesh has made a revolution in increasing rice production to feed its people after attaining self-sufficiency.
“The farmers of Bangladesh work collaboratively and we have enough strengths to work together in enchaining rice output further to ensure sustainable food security and feed future global population despite climate change challenges,” he said.
Dr Zeigler said this in an exclusive interview taken by Senior Reporter Mamun Islam of Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS), national news agency of Bangladesh, at his office at IRRI headquarters in Los Banos city of the Philippines on October 3 last.
The BSS journo took the interview at the end of his five-day tour in the Philippines on invitation of IRRI through the STRASA Project as recognition of his critical and analytical news reporting on stress tolerant rice cultivation in Bangladesh.
The interview was taken in presence of outstanding farmers Janab Ali from Mymensingh in Bangladesh and Nekkanti Subba Rao from Andhra Pradesh and Arun Kumar Bakoo from Uttarakhand States in India.
While commenting on attaining sustainable food security amid climate change challenges, Dr Zeigler predicted that global rice output would be increased by fifty percent by 2050 to feed to growing world population.
“Comprehensive efforts are on and things are going satisfactorily towards the direction in increasing rice output easily despite climate change challenges to feed the increasing world population also maintaining quality of rice grain and aroma,” he said.
To attain the goals, Dr Zeigler narrated the massive research activities being conducted by the scientists and researchers at IRRI headquarters to achieve huge success so far.
He focused on resolving the problems comprehensively after 10 years, 20 years and 30 years and so on following climate change and other issues to increase rice yield for food security as half of the humanity depends on rice crop.
Dr Zeigler said rice yield has been increasing sustainably following expanded cultivation of the released high yielding and stress tolerant varieties by IRRI like drought- tolerant, flood-tolerant, salinity- or salt- tolerant rice in South Asia and Africa.
He narrated brighter prospects of the ongoing comprehensive research activities on golden rice, high-iron rice, high-zinc rice, C4 rice, green super rice, hybrid rice, climate smart and other high yielding rice varieties by the IRRI scientists and researchers.
To increase rice production, IRRI has been innovating and introducing newer technologies to help the farmers in improving management of rice crop farming to increase output at reduced costs and reduce gaps between actual and potential yields.
He said benefits of these interventions for farmers, such as those that IRRI has brought to millions of farmers across Asia and Africa, are being further enhanced with the use of information and communication technology and satellite imagery.
The IRRI has been accelerating delivery of information for better crop management, new postharvest technologies to reduce losses, evolving and introducing high yielding rice varieties, strengthening and upgrading the rice breeding and research pipelines.
The IRRI has a whole arsenal of rice production knowledge and interventions those include climate-smart rice varieties, good crop management practice for specific conditions and others shared with stakeholders across the rice value chain system.
While commenting on Bangladesh’s decision of exporting 50,000 tonnes rice to Sri Lanka very soon, he said Bangladesh has achieved tremendous success in increasing rice production to feed its growing population at its own.
“A couple of decades ago, I was watching a TV programme in the United States when the channel predicted there would be a catastrophe in Bangladesh as it would not be able to feed its people by 2020,” Dr Zeigler said recalling his memories.
But, the farmers of Bangladesh have ultimately proved that the extremely negative prediction of the TV channel is quite baseless by making a real revolution in rice production to ensure sustainable food security, he added.