Bangladeshi crop breeders have released yet another high-zinc rice variety
The Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) has once again launched a high-zinc rice variety that boasts of higher-zinc content and greater yield than Brri dhan-62–the rice variety released last year.
Brri dhan-62 contains around 19 to 20 parts per million (ppm) zinc against 14 to 16 ppm in other high-yielding rice varieties. However, the new rice breed, Brri dhan-64, contains zinc as high as 25 ppm.
Vital micronutrients, such as zinc, iron and vitamin-A aid in the natural growth of children and boosts their immune system. Zinc deficiency causes stunted growth in children.
While an average yield of Brri dhan-62 is 4.2 metric tons (MT) per hectare, Brri dhan-64 has yield potentials of over 6 MT per hectare. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the National Seed Board (NSB) in Bangladesh will decide upon its release soon.
Both rice varieties are capable of countering diarrhea and pneumonia-induced childhood deaths and stunting. They have been developed by BRRI breeders through biological fortification, where (biofortification) breeders search for seeds that have high nutritional value among existing varieties of crops.
The high-nutrient varieties and high-yielding varieties are then crossbred to provide seeds with high yield and increased nutritional value.
The two varieties have been developed under HarvestPlus, a global biofortification mission launched in 2004 under the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research, a Washington-based global agro-science coordinating body. The mission is spending $10 million for the zinc-rice programme between 2013 and 2018. So far, 27 countries have released varied biofortified crops and more are gearing up.
The developed rice varieties are expected to reach Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam.
Photo Credits: Dhaka Tribune