PH hybrid rice captures big slice of Bangladesh marketBy Niña P. Calleja
Philippine Daily Inquirer
A hybrid rice variety developed in the Philippines has captured 20 percent of Bangladesh’s hybrid rice market, thus helping the developing country in South Asia meet its goal to become self sufficient in rice, an exporting Filipino firm said Monday.
Local firm SL Agritech Corp. has been shipping its SL-8H variety seeds to Bangladesh since the initial production of seeds in 2006.
“SL-8 is popular in Bangladesh. It is grown in hectares and hectares in Monipur Village, district of Jessore where some farmers who are dealers of the seeds have already become rich,” said Anwar Faruque, Bangladesh Ministry of Agriculture additional secretary, in a statement issued by SL Agritech.
Faruque and a team of Bangladesh seed experts visited last Feb. 4 and 5 the International Rice Research Institute in Los Baños.
He announced that Bangladesh would stop rice importation this year.
“The good news is we have 160 million population, and the available land is decreasing. But we are self-sufficient in rice this year. We used to import half a million tons a year. This year, we will no longer import,” Faruque said, according to SL Agritech.
Although the hybrid rice sector in Bangladesh accounts for only 600,000 hectares out of the 10 million ha of rice areas, it contributed some 18 percent to the country’s total production.
It was enough to wipe out its rice imports reaching 500,000 MT each year, the Bangladeshi official said.
SL-8H performs well under Bangladesh soil conditions, hitting an average yield of 11 metric tons per hectare, which is 20 percent higher than the output of traditional varieties.
Bangladesh has more than three times the Philippines’ rice area of three million hectares. It has 4.7 million hectares of irrigated rice land and 5.2 million hectares of rainfed areas.
SL Agritech claimed that Bangladesh was ahead of the Philippines by at least two years in hybrid rice adoption. It started by importing the seeds from China in 1999.
The Philippines also continues to be a rice importer.
“The Philippines, which is among Asia’s pioneers in hybrid rice commercialization along with China and India, is importing up to 200,000 MT of rice this year, according to the Department of Agriculture,” SL Agritech said.