Shanti Agro IndustriesRecently the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) has developed a new zinc-enriched rice variety named BRRI Dhan72, which is an early maturing and high yielding variety. BRRI Dhan72 is the second zinc-enriched Aman variety developed by the BRRI. According to sources, the BRRI Dhan 62 was developed first variety in August 2013 as the world’s first biologically fortified (bio-fortified) high-yielding zinc variety.

It has been highlighted that the National Seed Board released the new rice breed on July 12, 2015 and the seeds will be made available for farmers for cultivation in the next Aman season (June – November 2016).It has been emphasized that BRRI Dhan72 provides an yield of around 5.7 tons per hectares as compared to around 4.5 tons per hectare provided by its predecessor BRRI Dhan62. It was also noted that the newer variety is nutritionally richer than BRRI Dhan62. It contains 22.8 milligram of zinc per kilogram compared to around 19.8 milligram per kilogram of BRRI Dhan62. Moreover, the new variety also matures within 125 days.

In this process of cultivation, bio-fortification is used to increase nutritional value of crops and it can be done through conventional selective breeding or genetic engineering. The BRRI Director General told that zinc is an important nutrient and is vital for children’s natural growth and immune system. Further, Zinc is found in wide varieties of fruits and vegetables and most of the Bangladeshis cannot afford them.

Therefore, it was also urged to the government to encourage an increase in cultivation of the new rice variety. Further, it was added that all Aman rice varieties developed so far, BR11 is most popular among farmers. However, given the benefits of BRRI Dhan72 over BR11, farmers must be encouraged to switch over to BRRI dhan72.The research related to the development of BRRI Dhan72 has been funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and it was duly acknowledged.

According to USDA estimates, Bangladesh is to produce around 35 million tons of milled rice in MY 2015-16 (May – April), up about 1% from an estimated 34.5 million tons in MY 2014-15. It also estimated that Bangladesh to import around 1.1 million tons of rice in 2015, up about 45% from an estimated 751,000 tons in 2014.