Experts on Thursday emphasized the need for more research into biotechnology, as part of efforts to face challenges related to ensuring food security in the coming years in
To face these challenges, the country is required to improve the productivity of its agriculture and produce more diverse crops with a greater share for fruits and vegetables. Research into biotechnology can help the country achieve this, they added.
The experts made the observation at an inception meeting of two projects on ‘Improvement of Grain Legumes Through Transfor-mation’, and ‘Development of Stress Tolerant Peanut Breeding Lines Using Modern Biotechnology’, at Centre of Excellence of Dhaka University.
The two projects are being funded by the United States Department of Agriculture for the next four years.
DU vice-chancellor Professor AAMS Arefin Siddique, Professors of DU botany department M Imdadul Hoque and Rakha Hari Sarker, Professor Hans-Jörg Jacobsen of Germany’s Leibniz University, Dr VS Reddy of India, and Dr Kevin McPhee of North Dakota State University in USA, among others, were present at the meeting with Chairman of the Botany Department Prof M Abul Hassan in the chair.
Addressing the inception meeting as chief guest, Prof AAMS Arefin Siddique said plant biotechnology research with classical tissue culture was initiated at the Department of Botany in the early 1980s, although with hardly any mentionable facilities.
‘Plant bio-technology, integrated with classical breeding is on the verge of creating the ‘evergreen revolution’, to solve the world’s tripled demand for food, agricultural commodities and natural products,” he added.
Appraising the USDA project, he said it will bring substantial improvement in regard to their productivity and will fulfill the nutritional requirements of the country.
Talking to the news agency, Professor Rakha Hari Sarker, who is one of the project investigators, said the four-year project will help build capacity in the laboratory, develop human resource with the provisions for two PhD degrees, provide training of project personnel in partner institutes’ laboratories, and inter-institutional collaboration both at home and abroad.
He said the low yield potential of the existing varieties, narrow genetic base, inter-specific incompatibility, susceptibility to disease (especially absence of resistant gene/s) poor germplasm pool and poor response to high inputs, water logging, salinity, and apathy of farmers to cultivate grain legumes are the main factors for low productivity in the country.
‘The main objective of this study is to improve the agronomic performance of three pulse crops, such as lentil, chickpea and mung bean, development of agro-bacterium mediated genetic transformation systems for the introduction of desired genes, and generating of pre-breeding lines for these crops with resistance to fungal diseases prevalent in Bangladesh,’ he said.
Prof Sarker also mentioned that Prof Hans-Jörg Jacobsen, Prof Alan McHughen, Dr VS Reddy and Dr Kevin McPhee are the foreign experts who are partnering the project.
On the project itself, Prof Sarker said they will develop the stress tolerant breeding lines of peanut that are particularly resistant to fungal diseases using genetic transformation techniques, and try to achieve optimization of genotypes independent in vitro plant regeneration systems in peanut varieties cultivated in Bangladesh.
Source: The Daily New Age, 31 July 2009