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BRAC & its vegetable sector _Bangladesh


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A brief description of the role of vegetable sector of BRAC Agricultural Research & Development Centre in relation to current situation of vegetable production in Bangladesh has been elaborated.

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BRAC & its vegetable sector _Bangladesh

  1. 1. 1 BRAC & ITS VEGETABLE SECTOR Dr. Sitesh Chandra Biswas Realizing the importance of Agriculture in the socio-economic as well as cultural development of Bangladesh BRAC started its agriculture programme during the year 1972 and laid the foundation of Vegetable Sector with the distribution of vegetable seeds to the Village Organization members to provide adequate nutrition to its V.O. members, to generate additional income to the members particularly to the women- the underprivileged, most deprived and weaker section of the society, to utilize the land resources more judiciously and to disseminate the modern techniques of vegetable cultivations to the growers. With the gradual transformation of subsistence agriculture to commercial agriculture in Bangladesh BRAC wanted to contribute more in the vegetable sector and started its vegetable seed production production programme during the year 1996 using the platform BRAC Agricultural Programme. For upgrading its Vegetable Sector BRAC also started Vegetable Research Programme during the year 2000 at BRAC Agricultural Research & Development Centre in Gazipur to address the issues related to the development of demand led new varieties, commercial vegetable production and vegetable seed production more systematically and more comprehensively. Vegetable sector is at present operating its research-oriented activities as well as seed production on some common vegetable crops. These are: 1. Fruiting vegetables (okra, pumpkin, cucumber, bitter gourd, ridge gourd, bottle gourd, hot pepper etc.) 2. Leafy & salad vegetables (spinach, pechay, red amaranth, kang kong, broad leaf mustard & jute mallow etc.) 3. Podded vegetables (yard long bean, country bean, mung bean , cow pea etc.) 4. Stem and bulb vegetables (onion, stem amaranth etc.) 5. Western Brassicas (cauliflower, cabbage, khol rabi) 6. Root & tuber vegetables (radish) & 7. Indigenous vegetables {Jute mallow (Corchorus olitorious) , Lafa shak (Malva verticillata), Bothua shak (Chenopodium sp.), Brahmi shak (Bacopa monierii), Gandhavadali ( Pterida foetida) etc.
  2. 2. 2 Fig.1. BRAC Plant Tissue Culture Laboratory in BRAC Agricultural Research & Development Centre at Gazipur. Unlike other sectors of BRAC Agricultural Programme (rice, maize, tissue culture, horticulture & nursery) Vegetable Sector has 5 types of activities viz., A. Variety screening B. Variety development C. Generation of new technologies D. Development of uncommon type of varieties E. Seed production. Activities A. Variety screening programme: Under this programme usually best variety/varieties of different vegetable crops from the imported seeds are screened out. As seeds of the cool season vegetable crops such as, cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, turnip, carrot etc. are generally not produced here in Bangladesh and this is why for the seeds of these crops, Bangladeshi farmers are totally dependent upon the imported seeds of the cool season crops to the foreign companies particularly reputed companies of Japan, China, Taiwan, Thailand, USA, India etc. For operating variety screening activities the quality seeds of these crops are collected from the companies and grow out trial is conducted and based on our observation best varieties are selected and recommended to the concerned section i.e. marketing section to import the seeds of those particular variety / varieties. Good quality seeds obtained from the reputed companies are finally sold to the growers through the seed marketing network system. B. Variety development programme In fact, this is the core programme of the Vegetable Section. Under this programme Vegetable Sector is developing new improved varieties (both OP & F1 hybrids) & diverse genotypes. In fact, Vegetable Sector is engaged here in the development of hybrids of those vegetable crops which are widely grown in Bangladesh and seed production is economically feasible under Bangladeshi agro climatic conditions such as, bitter gourd, bottle gourd, pumpkin, okra, cucumber, hot pepper etc. BRAC Vegetable Sector has started to develop F1 hybrids of the important crops and so far as many as 10 hybrids of different vegetable crops and 4 OP varieties have been developed since the inception of the programme (Table.1). As the vegetable hybrids have several advantages over OP varieties such as, 1. Higher yield, 2. Higher uniformity rate, 3. Higher quality, 4. Higher disease resistance potentiality & 5. High degree of adaptability this is why these hybrids are very popular among the growers. Table.1: List of own hybrid varieties developed by BRAC scientists. Sl. No 01 02 Name of the Crop Bitter Gourd Ridge Gourd No. of Varieties Variety Name 01 Bulbuli 01 Green Star 03 Bottle Gourd 01 Green Super 04 Pumpkin 01 Beauty 05 Okra 01 Ever Green 06 Tomato 02 Tripti-01, Tripti-02 07 Brinjal 03 Surovi, Giant Green, Super Singnath
  3. 3. 3 C. Generation of new technologies: Along with the development of new varieties, Vegetable Sector is also developing new technologies, standard cultivation techniques of the newly developed hybrids within the vegetable section. The technologies like cut–and-comeagain techniques of harvesting spinach, growing vegetables under polythene tunnel, cloning of F1 hybrid kang kong etc. and standardized cultivation techniques are then transferred to the vegetable seed farms and contract growers respectively for obtaining the desired productivity and good quality seeds. D. Development of uncommon type of varieties: Along with the development of F1 hybrid and OP varieties Vegetable sector is also developing some uncommon type of varieties of different vegetable crops such as red okra, red spinach, white pumpkin, purplish red yard long bean, purple hot pepper, red chenopodium, yellow seeded mung bean, heat tolerant country bean etc. Red okra, red spinach, purplish red yard long bean, purple hot pepper & red Chenopodium are anthocyanin rich vegetable which has got immense health benifits. Preliminary test also confirmed that red okra has β-carotene and red spinach has increased level of β-carotene besides higher level of iron. On the other hand, yellow seeded mung bean has 33% reduced level of fat. Heat tolerant country bean is a boon to the vegetable growers as it can be grown in the monsoon season when there are very few vegetables in the market. And these beans are usually sold at an exorbitant price during that period which ensures the grower huge profits during the off season period. Fig.3. Red okra developed at BARDC. Fig. 4. Red spinach & green spinach developed at BARDC.
  4. 4. 4 E. Seed Production: Vegetable sector has a very good seed production network system involving two regional research stations- one at Meherpur and the other in the Dinajpur besides its own good no. of contract growers under the Seed Production Systm. Utilizing breeder’s seed, foundation seeds are produced in the regional farms and certified seeds are finally produced by the contract growers. Usually sensitive type of F1 hybrid seeds are produced at the farm level through the own management system while other seeds particularly OP seeds are produced through the contract growers system maintaining standard seed production rules & techniques. Conclusion It is a well-known fact that vegetables are the important sources of energy, protein, vitamins and minerals which is very much needed for the improvement of the status of the nutrition of the people of Bangladesh. Moreover, by growing more vegetables unnecessary extra pressure on rice consumption can be reduced and food security can be ensured partially while regular vegetable consumption ensures nutritional security particularly to the poor people or small income groups. Intensive vegetable cultivation can generate employment opportunities to the marginal farmers and rural poor women folk and in this way they can earn extra money by growing vegetables. Bangladesh is now entering in the commercialization of agriculture and vegetable cultivation can ensure the sustainability of commercial agriculture in Bangladesh through steady supply of vegetables to the processing industries. Keeping this in view BRAC has already set up a cooling centre at Tongi for processing fresh vegetables before exporting them to the foreign countries. Current national demand of vegetable seed is around 3000 metric tons per year and only a fraction of it (nearly 38% of the total requirement) is fulfilled by the Govt. organisation and the Organised sectors while the major portion of the seeds for the vegetable cultivation are ‘Farmers retained seed’ which are happened to be usually inferior quality seed and poor yielding as well. But only good quality seed can increase the production up to 20% and BRAC Vegetable Sector is trying to supply good quality seeds to the vegetable growers at a reasonable price rate. Since the seeds are being produced in the country now it is becoming possible to produce these seed at reduced cost and our seeds are therefore cheaper compared to imported hybrid seeds. Address: Dr. Sitesh Chandra Biswas Program Specialist BRAC Agricultural Research & Development Centre (BARDC) Jogitala, BRRI, Joydebpur, Gazipur, Bangladesh Phone: 9257230 Mobile: 01730349845 e-mail: