SL Agritech to hike hybrid-rice seeds output in Bangladesh

01 Jun Posted by Administrator

By Jasper Y. Arcalas, Business Mirror

Local hybrid-rice seed producer SL Agritech Corp. (SLAC) said it is expanding its production of hybrid-rice seeds in Bangladesh over the next three years to help farmers in the South Asian country increase their harvest.

The company signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with Bangladesh-based EnP Solutions Ltd. (EnP) on Wednesday for the F-1 seed production, distribution and marketing of the SLAC hybrid-rice seed variety, SL-18H.

“We are expanding our seed production. SL Agritech has a lot of other seed varieties, such as SL-18H, which can rival SL-8H,” SLAC Chairman and CEO Henry Lim told reporters in a news briefing.

Bangladeshi farmers gained access to the company’s technology when it started producing hybrid-rice seeds in the South Asian country in 2009.

“We are happy to collaborate with EnP Solutions, and in the next few years, we target to hit bigger seed production, so that Bangladesh farmers will have access not only to SL-8H, but also SL-18H,” Lim added.

Under the MOA, SLAC will export 20 metric tons (MT) to 50 MT of SL-18H seeds to EnP  annually. SLAC will also train EnP personnel in producing SL-18H seeds in Bangladesh.

“Initially, EnP Solutions will import seeds from us since we have not yet started producing it. They will find a suitable place in Bangladesh where F1 seeds for SL-18H can be produced,”  Lim said.

He added the initial production area could cover up to 15 hectares of land. “After three years, this will expand to about 500 hectares to 800 hectares. By that time, we can produce 1,600 MT of seeds, because [the average yield] is 2 MT per hectare.”

Lim said EnP will be responsible for the marketing and distribution of the SL-18H seeds to Bangladeshi farmers.

EnP Chairman Syed  Mahmudul Huq said the production of the high-yielding SL-18H seed variety is a “viable” answer to his country’s problem of shrinking rice farms due to the conversion of agricultural lands.

“Bangladesh has  a small landmass of about 55,000 square miles with a population of 160 million. Every year, we are losing our arable land due to demographic pressure,” Huq said.

“Now, we’re getting something in Bangladesh, an average production of 3 MT to 5 MT of rice per hectare. But, [with SL-18H] we expect average production to reach more than 10 MT per hectare,” he added.

Bangladesh Ambassador to the Philippines Asad Alam Siam said one of the priorities of his government is technology transfer in agriculture, particularly those that could help farmers improve their productivity.

“Bangladesh is a small country with a big population. Farm lands are shrinking while population is increasing. Chasing the target of providing staples to the people is a huge challenge,” Siam said.

“SLAC’s hybrid-rice seed technology will help Bangladesh ensure food security and allow our farmers to grow other agricultural crops,” he added.

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