Rice is an important food source to Bangladesh. According to recent estimates, rice accounts for 70% of the calories consumed by the entire country. And much of the country’s agrarian economy depends on the farmers who grow it. But due to a lot of Bangladesh’s land consisting of salt-rich river delta soil, many farmers are finding it harder to grow the rice that their country needs!
But several non-profit organizations have come up with a solution…
Due to the high salt content of the soil on many Bangladeshi farms, rice crops have been suffering. Farmers have had problems with their crops and one farmer told NPR that his yield has been down by about 33% since a nearby cyclone flooded his farm in 2009.
Several non-profits have been working on a strain of saline-resistant rice to help combat this problem.
By switching out local varieties with this new strain, rice farmers could get back on their feet. The best part of it all is that this new strain of rice is not genetically modified! Scientists have found other ways to change the characteristics of crops without manipulating their DNA in a lab…
Scientists at the Bangladeshi Rice Research Institute have created suitable rice strains through cross-breeding.
All they’ve done is select existing strains of rice that are salt-resistant and bred them together. This is great because scientists are making the seeds for this new rice free to farmers! No longer will people have to purchase GMO plants in order to successfully farm and keep up with competition!
The biggest problem they have faced so far, is that farmers have been hesitant to try out the new plants. Many of them are afraid to plant the rice until other farmers have tried it out first. It’s quite the risk for farmers to plant a different strain of rice without out knowing if it’s successful, even if their current variety is failing. All the same, many farmers seem optimistic about the saline resistant-rice. The staff at the Bangladeshi Rice Research Institute are working on training farmers with their crop. They want them to have the tools they need to succeed!
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What does this mean for the future?
It means that science has found a way to help agrarian cultures remain in tact. By giving farmers a different strain of rice and the knowledge of how to best harvest it, they are able to help them without changing their culture. Science is keeping these wonderful societies in tact and preserving a way of life that is mostly absent from the Western world. Sometimes science can feel like it’s trying to replace the inefficiencies of other societies. This time, science is offering them a solution.