- less opportunity to increase wheat production due to unfavourable environment and lack of improved varieties
- about 55-56 lakh tonnes of wheat is imported every year
- work is underway to increase maize production to 10m tonnes per year in next 5 years
- production of maize was 7.50 lakh tonnes in 2009, which increased to 54 lakh tonnes in 2020
- 12.5 lakh tonnes of wheat in 2020
- annual demand for maize is 65-70 lakh tonnes
- in 2015-16, maize production was 27.59 lakh tonnes, which has doubled in last 5 years
The government is shifting its focus from wheat to maize, with profitability of the latter driving a rapid increase in quite a short time span.
But according to the Minister of Agriculture, Dr Mohammad Abdur Razzak, who spoke as the chief guest at a virtual meeting organised by the International Centre for Maize and Wheat Development (CIMIT) and Bangladesh Wheat and Maize Research Institute (BWMRI) on Friday, despite the consistent spike in demand, opportunities to increase wheat production are constrained by factors, e.g., unfavourable environment and paucity of improved varieties.
Abdur Razzak said that maize is being widely used in the country as food for fish and livestock, which is why initiatives have been undertaken to further increase maize production. Work is currently underway to increase maize production to 10 million tonnes per year in the next five years.
A change in food habits has resulted in a spike in demand for wheat in Bangladesh, but production remains low. Achieving self-sufficiency in wheat is not feasible as Bangladesh's agro-climate is not very conducive to wheat cultivation. However, if we can bring in more improved varieties that are suitable for this country, it may be possible to increase the production of wheat and fulfill at least half of the demand, he added.
According to the BWMRI, national maize production in 2009 was 7.50 lakh tonnes, which increased to 54 lakh tonnes in 2020. Annual demand for maize is 65-70 lakh tonnes. On the other hand, the country has produced 12.5 lakh tonnes of wheat in 2020. About 55-56 lakh tonnes of wheat are imported every year by the government and private sector to meet demand.
Maize production has doubled in the last five years. In the 2015-16 financial year, maize production was 27.59 lakh tonnes, according to the BWMRI.
Speakers also said the attack of the wheat blast and fall armyworm present big constraints for wheat and maize production in Bangladesh.
Md Abdur Razzak said different varieties of maize have been developed, we have a favourable agro-climate and farmers now have access to modern technical assistance. This has resulted in a rapid boost in maize production, with provisions for further increase. Expanding maize production to 10 million tonnes in the next five years will create opportunities to earn foreign exchange from exporting the surplus stock after domestic demands are met.
CIMIT Director General, Martin Kroff said CIMIT would enhance the development of wheat and maize in Bangladesh through research on improved varieties, training of scientists, innovative technology and assistance in prevention and control of various diseases, including blast and fall armyworm.