Bangladesh has been witnessing a record production of rice, but instead of becoming self-reliant, the country's dependence on imports of the staple food grain has grown steadily over the past two years – a crucial move in tackling the volatile market.
Despite such a situation, a recently conducted research of Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) projects that the country will have 42 lakh and 65 lakh tonnes of surplus rice in 2030 and 2050 respectively.
As part of the study titled "Doubling Rice Productivity in Bangladesh: A Way to Achieving SDG-2 and Moving Forward," researchers have developed the framework for an action plan to facilitate the projected volume of rice production, BRRI sources told The Business Standard.
Led by BRRI Director General Dr Md Shahjahan Kabir, scientists are positive that even a 75% implementation of this "Plan of Work (POW)" would allow Bangladesh to produce the surplus amount of rice. The institute is set to announce its findings officially at an event on Wednesday.
The research paper mentions increasing the cultivation, and production of rice in fallow land, located throughout river islands, hill tract areas, and the southern regions of the country. There are many farmlands in Bangladesh where rice production can be increased by around 21%.
The plan outlines working on closing this production gap, boosting labour productivity, inventing more nutrient-rich varieties and distributing those among farmers, diversifying rice-based products, and utilising mechanisation to support farmers and help keep rice prices stable.
Providing more details, Dr Kabir said, "Bangladesh has to double its rice production by 2030 to meet the SDG goal. The plan outlines the steps needed for doing this. Using previously uncultivated land, increasing crop intensity, and proper management will also help us achieve this target.
"If we manage to implement this action plan, Bangladesh will be able to produce 4.69 crore tonnes of rice in 2030, 5.40 crore in 2040, and 6.80 crores in 2050. Moreover, the country will have a rice surplus of 42 lakh tonnes in 2030, 50 lakh in 2040, and 65 lakh in 2050."
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in a report titled "Global Food Outlook June 2021" projected that Bangladesh will produce 3.78 crore tonnes of rice in 2021, compared to 3.74 crore tonnes in 2020.
When implemented correctly, the Plan of Work put together by BRRI is expected to double Bangladesh's rice production by 2030, and help the country fulfil SDG's first three goals – No Poverty, Zero Hunger, and Good Health and Well Being.
It also discusses the development of the whole rice cultivation process – from seedling production to harvesting crops, long-term storage of surplus rice, export facilities, conduct research through a public-private partnership to diversify rice-based products, and market development.
Bangladesh usually takes about 7-8 years to invent a new high-yielding variety of rice and deliver it at the field level.
When asked how the BRRI plans to reduce the time needed for such an initiative, Dr Kabir said, "The institute is working to cut this timeframe down by half. We are currently conducting research on the matter on multiple separate production lines.
"We are optimistic that our researchers will be able to achieve success."