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Hybrid seeds pose threat to indigenous crops, vegetables

Our Correspondent | July 31, 2019 00:00:00

RAJSHAHI, July 30: Varieties of hybrid seeds now widely used by the farmers of the country is posing a serious threat to the age- old, locally produced, indigenous crops, spices and vegetables. Moreover, the bid to introduce genetically modified seed, plant and food in the country would have a disastrous effect on health and nutrition of the people as well as on the environment.

According to sources, Bangladesh has already been flooded with a huge number of hybrid seeds and plants which are being widely cultivated by the farmers. Especially the local varieties of fine rice which were produced by the farmers for ages have become extinct or on the verge of extinction.

Earlier, hundreds of various varieties of fine rice were produced in Rajshahi, Naogaon, Chapainawabganj, Dinajpur and Rangpur districts.

According to sources of Agriculture Extension, there were around 30,000 varieties of local rice in the country most of which have by now become extinct, even names of many of such varieties have been obliterated. Specially, the Barind tract of greater Rajshahi and Bogura districts were famous for the production of fine rice. That rice had no match in terms of taste, aroma, quality and nutrition.

Now-a-days, the farmers of the Barind region no more cultivate genuine, local variety of Raghu shail, Jhinga shail, Paijam, Kalo Jira, Chini Modhu and hundreds of other varieties of rice.

The aromatic Basmati rice, an indigenous and prestigious variety of rice of the Barind region, was cultivated by the farmers of the region for centuries.

But, for want of processing and marketing facilities, the farmers of the region abandoned the cultivation of Basmati. As a result, the cultivation of Basmati was ultimately grabbed by the farmers of Thailand, India and Pakistan. The governments of those countries used to patronise the cultivation of Basmati there, it is learnt.

However, in 1997, the RiceTech of Texas, USA invented ' Kasmati' rice and patented it. Soon after the patent, the RiceTech claimed Kasmati having the same quality, aroma, nutrition value and size that of Basmati. As the Kasmati was patented by the RiceTech, the farmers of other countries lost the rights of cultivation, marketing and exporting of Basmati because of its being identical with Kasmati.

The issue of Basmati and Kashmati, however, was raised to the court and the RiceTech lost the legal battle.

Not only for rice but also for cereals like mustard, gram, lentil, mungbean, Kalai, maize, wheat and pulses, innumerous hybrid varieties are being cultivated widely in the country. Though the taste and odour of those hybrid cereals have deteriorated, the farmers are interested to cultivate those crops because of a high production and harvesting rate, less crop loss and healthy looking.

Almost all the vegetables including brinjal, korolla, potato, cabbage, cauliflower, potato, cucumber, lemon, gourd, bean, lady's finger, papiya, Jhinga, Borboti, green chilli, ginger, onion, garlic, tomato, radish and sweet gourd which are now available in the country belong to the hybrid variety.

It is no wonder that these hybrid varieties of vegetables do not grow without excessive use of chemical fertilisers, pesticides and insecticides.

The Chinese variety of brinjal needs a daily spraying of toxic pesticides for its healthy growth. It is impossible to produce hybrid varieties of tomato without the use of excessive chemical fertiliser and pesticide, the early varieties of cabbage, cauliflower, potato and other winter vegetables also require a huge application of chemical fertiliser and pesticides for their growth.

Now- a-days, the local varieties of red radish, ucchey( local varieties of small korolla), lentil, gram, mungbean, gourd and tomato are on the verge of extinction.

Doctors in Rajshahi informed, consumption of hybrid vegetables is highly injurious to health. The hybrid varieties of brinjal, lady's finger, tomato, radish, onion, garlic, bean, ginger, gourd and onion lack taste, aroma and nutritive value.

The doctors and the elderly people are of the opinion that the use of unlimited chemical fertilisers and pesticides has made all the crops and vegetables of the country toxic.

They said, even 35 to 40 years ago when there was no use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides, people had no idea what was Acidity, Hypertension, cancer and many other complex diseases.

The cost of production of hybrid crop and vegetables are also more than those of HYV crop because hybrid crops and vegetables require a round the clock caring, more fertiliser, water, pesticides and weeding.

By not developing hybrid seeds locally, the multinational companies are making the farmers of the country dependent on them which would pose a disaster for our agriculture.

However, the government of our country has directed the agro-scientists to develop hybrid seeds at our own laboratories and within a short span of time, our scientists have been able to develop our own hybrid seeds and thus relieving our farmers from the grips of the multinational companies.

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