New hope in the cotton variant developed with nuclear radiation

Using nuclear technology, a cost-effective and fast-growing cotton variant was first developed in the country, raising hopes among textile manufacturers who spend around Tk 30,000 crore on imports of the main raw material of industry.

The new variant could be grown in the dry season without too much effort for irrigation. In addition, it tolerates climatic extremes.

Once widely used, the new variety is expected to bring macroeconomic benefits to the country, a press release from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) read.

At present, the new cotton variety is being planted at 13 different sites in Bangladesh and more than 1000 farmers are being trained in the planting procedure.

Scientists hope that the rapid pace of growth will increase farmers’ yields and incomes by 40%.

The Cotton Development Board, which reports to the Ministry of Agriculture, now plans to distribute the new variant to all regions of the country.

MdAkhteruzzaman, executive director of the board, told The Business Standard that the CBD plans to distribute the seeds of the new variant to farmers across the country in 13 areas.

The new variant, named “CDB Tula M-1”, is the result of the Cotton Development Board’s “Enhancing Capacity in Cotton Varieties Development Project”, which was launched in 2016.

A Cotton Development Board team in collaboration with the IAEA and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) developed the variant in Bangladesh in record time – just five years. The variant is more productive and has better fiber quality.

Detailing the development of the new cotton variant, the IAEA says plant breeding is the process of exposing plant seeds, cuttings, or other planting material to radiation, such as x-rays or rays. gamma.

“Induced irradiation causes changes in DNA, mimicking the natural process of spontaneous mutations, and creates genetic diversity / variation in the cotton population,” says the IAEA. “The individual plants are then multiplied and examined for their characteristics. Those with the desired characteristics continue to be cultivated and multiplied so that they can be distributed to farmers across the country.”

March 13, 2021 marked the official release and registration of the new cotton variety.

“Mutation selection is a new area of ​​research for us and now we have this new variant of cotton, which can be grown in a short period of time,” said DrMdKamrul Islam, project manager of the Cotton Development Board.

“We predict that this rapid growth will increase yields and farmer incomes by 40%.”

The main characteristics of the developed variant is that it can be harvested early, giving crops a minimum of 30 days earlier than the other variants.

And it is suitable for high density plantings because it takes up less space but results in high production, Kamrul Islam said.

Usually, a distance of three feet from row to row and 45 centimeters from plant to plant is required for yields of other variants. However, the new variant only requires a distance of 70 centimeters between rows and 30 centimeters between plants.

The project manager said that the potential yield of the new variant is around 5.5 tonnes while the yields of the other variants are only four tonnes per hectare.

Stakeholders said that due to a lack of sufficient and high quality domestic supply, the cotton industry is currently dependent on imports.

At present, the country has a demand for around 75 bales of cotton per year, of which only 2.35% is produced domestically.

In fiscal year 2019-2020, around 71 lakh bales of cotton were imported from overseas, mainly from India, Mali, United States and Brazil.

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