The agriculture and jute ministries are working with stakeholders to help Bangladesh achieve self-reliance in jute seeds and end dependence on India, Agriculture Minister Abdur Razzak said Thursday.
Bangladesh’s annual demand for certified jute seeds is 5,215 metric tonnes at the farmer level. Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation (BADC) supplies 775MT seeds every year. Of them, 515 tonnes are Tossa jute seeds entirely imported from India and the other 260 tonnes are local seeds.
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To reduce the over-dependency on Indian seeds, the Agricultural Ministry has rolled out a five-year roadmap. In 2021-22 to 2025-26 fiscal years, the ministry aims to produce 4,500MT Tossa seeds in 8,780 hectares of lands.
Minister Razzak said scientists have invented hybrid jute Robi-1 variety by using genome sequence provided by Bangladesh Jute Research Institute (BJRI) which can yield 10-15 times more than the Indian ones.
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“It’s possible to be self-sufficient by increasing cultivation of Robi-1,” he said at a symposium.
He noted that many farmers are not interested in preparing jute seeds considering it a less profitable item. “Farmers will be subsidised for cultivating jute seed,” the minister said, adding that the move is part of the government’s initiative to bring back the heydays of jute.
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Jute once dominated the country’s export and was affectionately called the ‘golden fibre’ but it has lost its lustre since.
Textile and Jute Minister Golam Dastagir Gazi said they would provide subsidy, if necessary, to encourage more farmers to get involved in jute seed production.
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Jute seeds and jute fibers are two different crops. Tossa is the Rabi crop of August-December month. When farmers are more interested in cultivating highly profitable Robi crops than jute seed.
As a result, during jute cultivation season, farmers consider buying seeds from the market as a more profitable idea. The majority of the Tossa seeds demand is met by Indian imported JRO-524 seeds.