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First blast resistant, biofortified wheat variety released in Bangladesh-A great breakthrough of Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute

First blast resistant, biofortified wheat variety released in Bangladesh

by Hans Braun, Pawan Singh, Ravi Singh, Shahidul Haque Khan, Velu Govindan / October 18, 2017

Members of National Technical Committee of NSB evaluating BAW 1260 in the field. Photo: CIMMYT
Members of National Technical Committee of NSB evaluating BAW 1260, the breeding line used to develop BARI Gom 33. Photo: CIMMYT

DHAKA, Bangladesh (CIMMYT) — As wheat farmers in Bangladesh struggle to recover from a 2016 outbreak of a mysterious disease called “wheat blast,” the country’s National Seed Board (NSB) released a new, high-yielding, blast-resistant wheat variety, according to a communication from the Wheat Research Centre (WRC) in Bangladesh.

Called “BARI Gom 33,” the variety was developed by WRC using a breeding line from the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), a Mexico-based organization that has collaborated with Bangladeshi research organizations for decades, according to Naresh C. Deb Barma, Director of WRC, who said the variety had passed extensive field and laboratory testing. “Gom” means “wheat grain” in Bangla, the Bengali language used in Bangladesh.

“This represents an incredibly rapid response to blast, which struck in a surprise outbreak on 15,000 hectares of wheat in southwestern Bangladesh just last year, devastating the crop and greatly affecting farmers’ food security and livelihoods, not to mention their confidence in sowing wheat,” Barma said.

Caused by the fungus Magnaporthe oryzae pathotype triticum, wheat blast was first identified in Brazil in 1985 and has constrained wheat farming in South America for decades. Little is known about the genetics or interactions of the fungus with wheat or other hosts. Few resistant varieties have been released in Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay, the countries most affected by wheat blast.

The Bangladesh outbreak was its first appearance in South Asia, a region where rice-wheat cropping rotations cover 13 million hectares and over a billion inhabitants eat wheat as main staple.

Many blast fungal strains are impervious to fungicides, according to Pawan Singh, a CIMMYT wheat pathologist. “The Bangladesh variant is still sensitive to fungicides, but this may not last forever, so we’re rushing to develop and spread new, blast-resistant wheat varieties for South Asia,” Singh explained.

The urgent global response to blast received a big boost in June from the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), which funded an initial four-year research project to breed blast resistant wheat varieties and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), which also provided grant to kick-start the work in South Asia. Led by CIMMYT, the initiative involves researchers from nearly a dozen institutions worldwide.

Chemical controls are costly and potentially harmful to human and environmental health, so protecting crops like wheat with inherent resistance is the smart alternative, but resistance must be genetically complex, combining several genes, to withstand new mutations of the pathogen over time.

Key partners in the new project are the agricultural research organizations of Bangladesh, including the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI), and the Instituto Nacional de Innovación Agropecuaria y Forestal in Bolivia, which will assist with large-scale field experiments to select wheat lines under artificial and natural infections of wheat blast.

Other partners include national and provincial research organizations in India, Nepal and Pakistan, as well as Kansas State University (KSU) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Services (USDA-ARS). The U.S. Agency for International Agricultural Development (USAID) has also supported efforts to kick-start blast control measures, partnerships and upscaling the breeding, testing and seed multiplication of new, high-yielding, disease resistant varieties through its Feed the Future project.

BARI Gom 33 was tested for resistance to wheat blast in field trials in Bolivia and Bangladesh and in greenhouse tests by the USDA-ARS laboratory at Fort Detrick, Maryland. International partnerships are critical for a fast response to wheat blast, according to Hans-Joachim Braun, director of CIMMYT’s Global Wheat Program.

“Worldwide, we’re in the middle of efforts that include blast surveillance and forecasting, studies on the pathogen’s genetics and biology, integrated disease management and seed systems, as well as raising awareness about the disease and training for researchers, extension workers, and farmers,” said Braun.

With over 160 million people, Bangladesh is among the world’s most densely populated countries. Wheat is Bangladesh’s second most important staple food, after rice. The country grows more than 1.3 million tons each year but consumes 4.5 million tons, meaning that imports whose costs exceed $0.7 billion each year comprise more than two-thirds of domestic wheat grain use.

WRC will produce tons of breeder’s seed of BARI Gom 33 each year. This will be used by the Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation (BADC) and diverse non-governmental organizations and private companies to produce certified seed for farmers.

“This year WRC will provide seed to BADC for multiplication and the Department of Agricultural Extension will establish on-farm demonstrations of the new variety in blast prone districts during 2017-18,” said Barma.

As an added benefit for the nutrition of wheat consuming households, BARI Gom 33 grain features 30 percent higher levels of zinc than conventional wheat. Zinc is a critical micronutrient missing in the diets of many of the poor throughout South Asia and whose lack particularly harms the health of pregnant women and children under 5 years old.

With funding from HarvestPlus and the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition, CIMMYT is leading global efforts to breed biofortified wheat with better agronomic and nutritional quality traits. The wheat line used in BARI Gom 33 was developed at CIMMYT, Mexico, through traditional cross-breeding and shared with Bangladesh and other cooperators in South Asia through the Center’s International Wheat Improvement Network, which celebrates 50 years in 2018.

Stable window 1 and 2 (W1W2) funding from CGIAR enabled CIMMYT and partners to react quickly and screen breeding lines in Bolivia, as well as working with KSU to identify sources of wheat blast resistance. The following W1 funders have made wheat blast resistance breeding possible: Australia, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Canada, France, India, Japan, Korea, New Zeland, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the World Bank. The following funders also contributed vital W2 funding: Australia, China, the United Kingdom (DFID) and USAID.

(This report has been taken from the website of CIMMYT,http://www.cimmyt.org for greater dissemination to inform and inspire all concerned.I specially congratulate the team of scientists for this great breakthrough.I also thank the funding agencies for their great contributions towards food and nutrition security.I heartily acknowledge the authors of the article,”First blast resistant, biofortified wheat variety released in Bangladesh” who depicted the details of the breakthrough and published at http://www.cimmyt.org/first-blast-resistant-biofortified-wheat-variety-released-in-bangladesh)

Little Children With Great Hearts: A Story by Dr.Syed Md. Zainul Abedin

The street is hardly two kilometers long.But it is very busy around the clock.Innumerable passers-by  move along the street. Various vehicles also pass by the narrow strip.A footpath attached to it looks like a business centre.Many vendors sell their products here for their livelihood.You will find many things here to shop.Fruits,pancakes,vegetables,fish ,chicken,utensils ,clothing and many other things.You will invariably see some vegabonds,drug-addicts and beggars at any time you pass along the street.

In fact, the street was the southern border of the serene and green farm established around 1900.The centenarian street was graced with a human height hedge comprising many species of plants.About 40 years back the farm with its trees,hedges,orchards,cropped fields, structures and machinery presented a  beautiful   and  picturesque view.Birds,fishes,butterflies,dragonflies, mongoose,rabbit and other animals moved freely  in their pleasant habitats.In my childhood days,once I was amazed by the jumping rabbit while collecting jujube from the orchard.The curious mongoose often stood on their bottoms and surprised me.

The happy old days and the productive farm was swallowed long ago.It was encroached by buildings of many kinds.But the street remained,its hedge was vanished and through years was transformed into a bustling centre of business.

This prologue is not to introduce the readers to the street or its pavement.I am going to tell you  the story of  three children who gave me a lesson on this street.While I was returning home just before the dusk three little kids were bouncing to their destination.They were around six years old.Each of them carried a sack by their left held,the elbow was fixed with one end of the opening of the sack.The small boys collect waste material from the garbage and elsewhere and sell them out for their living.At this age they are supposed to attend school.But poverty and destiny snatched their childhood privileges.Most of them sleep in the slums,some pass the nights on the pavements under the open sky.They can secure food for one or two times a day.So they are seriously malnourished.Usually most of them are barely dressed.

The little boys were dancing their way and met a blind beggar on the middle of the street.The beggar was holding a steel bowl and asking for monetary favor.I can’t remember when I dropped any coin into the bowl of such blind beggar.Despite this the helpless and blind beggars survived.I didn’t know how.

I saw the boys stopped in front of the beggar.They exchanged few words among themselves.Then one of them sent his right hand into the pocket of his jeans pant with patches here and there.His fingers brought out a coin that glittered under the fluorescent light.They looked at the coin.The owner of the coin tossed it into the air and approached the blind beggar.Then he dropped it into the bowl causing it to make  a sweet  metallic sound.They enjoyed the sound and looked at the beggar.The happy beggar reacted by praying for the donor whom he could not see.The little boys were happy too.They have done a great thing.

Astounded and amused,I was locked at the incident.I could scale now how mean I was compared to the little boys.The boys left the spot and I started to follow them.

The exulted and proud boys disappeared among the crowd.They carried the joy of benevolence with them.Inside my heart,I felt a prick of my conscience.I was really a mean human being!But these little boys conquered the selfishness which possessed me.The hearts of the little children were really great.They are noble human being.

School : A Poem by Dr.Syed Md. Zainul Abedin

Children smile and dance

Got golden books on first day

School turns to heaven

(Jubilant Bangladeshi students rejoice for getting texts books free of cost on the first day of school on January 1, 2013)

Comfort Dog : A Poem by Dr.Syed Md. Zainul Abedin

 

 

Comfort dogs have hearts

Children play safely with them

Savage killed angels

(Shocked by the tragic massacre in Sandy Hook Elementary School)

 

Please visit the following link to read the poem with reviews in WritersCafe :

 

http://www.writerscafe.org/writing/zainul/1090936/

 

Intelligent Little Train Passenger – By Syed Zainul Abedin

The little girl came with her parents in the large compartment of the train which stopped at the Jessore station.She was wearing a red sweater.She looked very happy in the biting chilly weather.Perhaps the train journey was a great pleasure for her.

The little girl sat for a while in the chair.But soon she started to move from place to place as the train started to move towards Dhaka.At first she came to her father who sat close to the window.Then she looked to the outside and showed the crops,people and domestic animals to her father.She became very excited when she saw the fields of mustard.She expressed her joy like a dancing butterfly.She had special love for the yellow flowers of the mustard field.At one time I joined her passion and showed her the fields of yellow mustard from the moving train.She soon befriended with me.

The little girl then walked to the other side of the compartment.She was soon joined by a number of children around her age.They gathered around us and started to see the moving sceneries from the window of the train.She asked her mother to give her toys and she organized the other children to play in joy.

At one point,a book seller came in front of the playing children.The agile girl insisted to have a story book.Her father purchased one story book.But she could not read the book.But,this did not stop her to enjoy the trip.She requested me to read the story to the children.I became very pleased to see the intelligence of the little girl.I was spell bound and started to read aloud the story based upon the folk literature.The story was about a daughter-in-law who was kidnapped by a witch and later rescued by her husband through the assistance of learned witch manager.There were many illustrations in the book.The girl and the children enjoyed the story and asked me read other stories from the book.

The girl switched soon to other activity.She asked the other children to go back to their parents and wanted to walk with her father.Her father took her to another compartment .They came back after half an hour.She took some pickles and orange in her packet.She sat again on her chair by my side.Now she was more happy to get her favorite food.She asked me take some fruit.I became very happy to see her courtesy.

After about twelve hours the train reached Dhaka.I was traveling alone.The intelligent little girl was a great companion and fellow passenger.I still remember her cute face and lovely activities.She left the compartment with her parents.I bid her farewell and wished to see her again.