Fungi-resistant potato to save farmers Tk. 100 crore a year | 2017-12-13 | daily-sun.com

Fungi-resistant potato to save farmers Tk. 100 crore a year

Sun Online Desk     13th December, 2017 05:16:14 printer

Fungi-resistant potato to save farmers Tk. 100 crore a year

Each year farmers in Bangladesh grow close to 10 million tonnes of potato, well surpassing the domestic demand of the tuber crop, and export the surplus to 20 countries.

 

But to save the prime vegetable from fungal attacks (potato late blight), farmers in Bangladesh have to foot Tk. 100 crore yearly bills on fungicide sprays.

 

Aiming to give the growers a relief from high fungicide expenditure and increase the output of potato, otherwise damaged by late blight, government today embarked on an ambitious project to infuse the country’s most popular potato variety – Diamant – with three resistant genes to fight the late blight. 

 

All of these three genes – taken from some of potato’s wild types – once engineered into our homegrown potato, scientists expect, it to be resistant to fungi and thereby, make the  hazardous fungicides redundant.

 

Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury was present at the auditorium of the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC) in the city today (Wednesday) when Prof Dr David Douches from Michigan State University (MSU), a potato breeder for past 30 years, presented the plan before a scientific audience.

 

Bangladesh’s premier farm research organization – Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) teamed up with the MSU, University of Minnesota and Simplot Plant Sciences of Idaho, USA to breed the GM (genetically modified) potato expectedly in three years. The USAID is financing the USD 5.8 million research venture.

 

Once released, the triple-gene late blight resistant potato will be Bangladesh’s second commercial GM agro product since the country’s first one – Bt. brinjal – released in 2013.      

 

BARI, meanwhile, has also developed another fungi-resistant potato line and waiting for regulatory approval. Scientists concerned, however, told UNB that the line BARI developed was infused with single resistant gene, and they see much more potential in staking up of triple genes into potato so that it can withstand even strongest of fungal attacks.

 

Starting with just 20 back in 2013, as many as 7,000 farmers across 64 districts of the country are cultivating Bt. brinjal this year, Matia said today.

 

She also informed the audience that after brinjal and potato, several other GM product lines are up in the pipeline, which include, genetically modified varieties of rice, cotton, chickpea and tomato.

 

Agriculture minister said government is exploring to biotech technology’s potentials in addressing challenges like submergence, drought, high temperatures and other climatic stresses as well as pests and fungi.

 

Matia Chowdhury said, “We need GM rice that will be tolerant to salt as we’ve got over a million hectares of saline-prone farmlands in 18 coastal districts of the country.”

 

She assured all that all biosafety regulations are being thoroughly followed in pursuing the frontier science in agriculture.

 

BARI Director General Dr Abul Kalam Azad said that they had signed agreement with MSU early last month and hoping a good result out of this initiative where multiple resistant genes would be infused.

 

BARC Executive Chairman Dr Bhagya Rani Banik, Dhaka University faculty Dr Rakha Hari Sarker, ex-DG of BARI, Dr Rafiqul Islam Mondal, among others, also spoke at the event in presence of scientists and researchers from home and US. 

 

Throughout the world many green groups have strong reservations about genetic engineering of crops on the fear that these would alter the global ecosystem. Yet over the past two decades as many as 30 countries including Bangladesh are growing GM foods.

 

Bangladesh’s South Asian neighbor India has long been cultivating Bt. cotton, a GM product, turning itself from a cotton-importing to an exporting country. In recent years, India, however, given in to greens’ concerns and restrained itself from releasing GM food crops like Bt. brinjal and GM mustard. 

 

Source: UNB

 

Fungi-resistant potato to save farmers Tk. 100 cr. a year

Each year farmers in Bangladesh grow close to 10 million tonnes of potato, well surpassing the domestic demand of the tuber crop, and export the surplus to 20 countries.

 

But to save the prime vegetable from fungal attacks (potato late blight), farmers in Bangladesh have to foot Tk. 100 crore yearly bills on fungicide sprays.

 

Aiming to give the growers a relief from high fungicide expenditure and increase the output of potato, otherwise damaged by late blight, government today embarked on an ambitious project to infuse the country’s most popular potato variety – Diamant – with three resistant genes to fight the late blight. 

 

All of these three genes – taken from some of potato’s wild types – once engineered into our homegrown potato, scientists expect, it to be resistant to fungi and thereby, make the  hazardous fungicides redundant.

 

Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury was present at the auditorium of the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC) in the city today (Wednesday) when Prof Dr David Douches from Michigan State University (MSU), a potato breeder for past 30 years, presented the plan before a scientific audience.

 

Bangladesh’s premier farm research organization – Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) teamed up with the MSU, University of Minnesota and Simplot Plant Sciences of Idaho, USA to breed the GM (genetically modified) potato expectedly in three years. The USAID is financing the USD 5.8 million research venture.

 

Once released, the triple-gene late blight resistant potato will be Bangladesh’s second commercial GM agro product since the country’s first one – Bt. brinjal – released in 2013.      

 

BARI, meanwhile, has also developed another fungi-resistant potato line and waiting for regulatory approval. Scientists concerned, however, told UNB that the line BARI developed was infused with single resistant gene, and they see much more potential in staking up of triple genes into potato so that it can withstand even strongest of fungal attacks.

 

Starting with just 20 back in 2013, as many as 7,000 farmers across 64 districts of the country are cultivating Bt. brinjal this year, Matia said today.

 

She also informed the audience that after brinjal and potato, several other GM product lines are up in the pipeline, which include, genetically modified varieties of rice, cotton, chickpea and tomato.

 

Agriculture minister said government is exploring to biotech technology’s potentials in addressing challenges like submergence, drought, high temperatures and other climatic stresses as well as pests and fungi.

 

Matia Chowdhury said, “We need GM rice that will be tolerant to salt as we’ve got over a million hectares of saline-prone farmlands in 18 coastal districts of the country.”

 

She assured all that all biosafety regulations are being thoroughly followed in pursuing the frontier science in agriculture.

 

BARI Director General Dr Abul Kalam Azad said that they had signed agreement with MSU early last month and hoping a good result out of this initiative where multiple resistant genes would be infused.

 

BARC Executive Chairman Dr Bhagya Rani Banik, Dhaka University faculty Dr Rakha Hari Sarker, ex-DG of BARI, Dr Rafiqul Islam Mondal, among others, also spoke at the event in presence of scientists and researchers from home and US. 

 

Throughout the world many green groups have strong reservations about genetic engineering of crops on the fear that these would alter the global ecosystem. Yet over the past two decades as many as 30 countries including Bangladesh are growing GM foods.

 

Bangladesh’s South Asian neighbor India has long been cultivating Bt. cotton, a GM product, turning itself from a cotton-importing to an exporting country. In recent years, India, however, given in to greens’ concerns and restrained itself from releasing GM food crops like Bt. brinjal and GM mustard.   


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