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Special project for quality potato seeds production

Will reduce dependence on import

Published : 01 Feb 2021 09:32 PM | Updated : 02 Feb 2021 12:48 AM

The government has undertaken a project to increase production of quality potato seeds at farmers' level for ensuring farmers’ income by increasing potato output. 

Besides, the government wants to increase the high yielding varieties and improved production technology.

It will also help farmers  get quality potato seeds with low price as the country is  dependent on imported seeds, said an official of Ministry of Agriculture.

This project will help to increase the farmers’ income, he said adding that, people can also buy potatoes at fair price after implementing the project.

The project titled “Development and enhancement of agricultural seeds through biotechnology” involving Tk 72 crore has been taken to develop quality potatoes seeds for ensuring proper nutrition and huge production, a planning commission official said.

It will be presented at the next meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC), he mentioned. 

If approved, it will be implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture from this year to December 2024, he added.

In this regard, Zakir Hossain Akand, Planning Commission member and member of Department of Agriculture, Water Resources and Rural Institutions, said, “If quality and disease free seeds are distributed at the farmer level, the production and yield of fruits and vegetables will increase. This will increase food and nutrition security and reduce import costs.”

 Besides, if the productivity of the crop increases, the income of the farmers will also increase and reduce poverty, he said. The main activities of the project are: production of 2 million potatoes and 50,000 plantlets of horticultural crops, DNA fingerprinting of cultivars and preservation of cultivars of native varieties of fruits and vegetable crops, introduction of other destructive diseases including cereals and seed potato virus.

Besides, the project also includes construction of 1000 sq m seedling house, 450 sq m net house glass house construction, 1000 sq m greenhouse, collection of laboratory equipment and chemicals, 5,310 farmers, seed dealers, private seed growers and less than 300 trainers on the latest technology in seed production. 

In addition, the project will set up 1,042 exhibition plots and implementation of 200 field days to popularize the planting material seeds produced through biotechnology at the farmer level.

According to sources, the yield per acre of crop in this country is not as expected due to low quality seeds and viral diseases. 

It is possible to increase the crop production rate by about 20 to 25 percent by using virus free and quality seeds produced through tissue culture. 

Under the previously implemented biotechnology, agricultural seed development, enhancement, quality assessment and technology dissemination projects, including the establishment of a Central Tissue Culture Laboratory, 12 lakh quality seedlings were produced. 

Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation (BADC) has not been importing any seed potatoes since 2016-17 due to increase in production capacity. 

At present, it is possible to produce and distribute a maximum of 36,000 metric tons of improved and disease free potato seeds at the farmer level from six lakh plantlets in tissue culture system in BADC. 

Due to the demand, this target has been set at 60,000 metric tons per year. However, for this, an additional six lakh plantlets have to be produced annually. 

The project is proposed to increase the infrastructural capacity of BADC for disease free quality seeds production of horticultural crops including potato through biotechnology and to produce plantlets as per targets.

The main objective of the project is to reduce the import dependence and save foreign exchange by meeting the demand of potato seeds in the country by producing 2 million seedlings of potatoes in the existing three tissue culture laboratories by 2024. 

The horticulture will produce 50,000 seedlings of the national crop and supply them to the existing horticulture development centers and agro-service centers of BADC. 

In addition, in the Seed Health and Molecular Laboratory, seed disease diagnosis and BADC's various crop strategy analysis, purification, development and germplasm conservation and training through biotechnology, tissue culture and crop production techniques will be available.