Bangladesh produces hardly 1.2 million tons of wheat against the demand of around seven million tons annually

Substantial and sustainable expansion of wheat farming can mitigate the existing stress on the environment in the high Barind tract, as wheat is an environment-friendly crop, scientists and researchers have said. 

Time has come to enhance acreage of wheat farming instead of only depending on Irri-Boro rice in the dried area to ensure food security amid the adverse impact of climate change and Covid-19 pandemic, the further said.

The experts came up with the observation while addressing a regional workshop styled “Wheat Farming Extension in Non-Conventional Stressed Environment” in Rajshahi city on Friday. 

Regional Station of Bangladesh Wheat and Maize Research Institute (BWMRI) hosted the workshop at the conference hall of Barind Multipurpose Development Authority (BMDA). 

More than 50 agricultural extension and research organizations and other stakeholders joined the workshop.

Additional Secretary (Research) to the Ministry of Agriculture Komola Ranjan Das and BMDA Executive Director Shayam Kishore Roy addressed the meeting as chief and special guests, respectively, with BWMRI Director General Dr Israil Hossain in the chair.

BWMRI Principal Scientific Officer Dr Ilias Hossain welcomed the participants.

Bangladesh Sugar Crop Research Institute Director Dr Samajit Kumar Paul, Additional Director of the Department of Agriculture Extension Sirajul Islam and BMDA Superintendent Engineer Abdur Rashid also spoke at the workshop. 

BWMRI Senior Scientific Officer Dr Mahfuz Bazzaj presented a keynote paper on the topic at the workshop, giving an overview of the country’s present condition of wheat farming along with its challenges and prospects.

In his remarks, Komola Ranjan Das suggested development and dissemination of appropriate farm machinery to enhance wheat farm production.

He said promotion of modern technologies in wheat farming could be the effective means of boosting wheat yield as a whole.

Disseminating ideas of modern technologies among the field-level agricultural officials and farmers on how to expand wheat cultivation in the drought-prone area has become indispensable.

Shayam Kishore Roy said wheat played an important role to ensure food security as its consumption is increasing day by day. But Bangladesh produces hardly 1.2 million tons of wheat against the demand of around seven million tons annually.

He also said the Rajshahi region contributed 35% of total cultivation area and 44% of total production of wheat. Not only that, there are around 50,000 hectares of more rain-fed land in the high Barind area and there has been a bright prospect of bringing the huge land under wheat cultivation.

More emphasis should be given on expansion of short duration and high-yielding wheat varieties. Seed preservation and production training need to be strengthened, he said. 

GO-NGO collaboration has become an urgent need for the new variety expansion. More support from international research organizations including International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) has become essential for germ-plasm, especially heat- tolerant variety adoption together with yield gap minimization in the farmer’s field.

Shyam Kishore Roy finally recommended minimizing the constraints for the sake of sustainable wheat production. 

Farmers need to be aware about the resource-conserving technologies and modern scientific methods so that wheat production remains technologically sound, economically viable, socially acceptable and environmentally secure, he added. 

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