Bangladesh Government on 25 August 2013 released the world's first zinc-enriched rice variety capable of fighting diarrhoea and pneumonia-induced childhood deaths and stunted growth.
The National Seed Board of Bangladesh gave its approval to the country's first biologically fortified rice variety, which will be available to farmers for cultivation in the next aman season beginning June -November 2014. Aman season is monsoon season of Bangladesh (June to November) and the major crop of Aman season is rice.
The zinc-enriched variety developed in Bangladesh has the maximum zinc content ranging from 20-22 ppm as against the world average of 14-16 ppm in other varieties. It also has a shorter maturity period of 100 days against 110-120 days for other fortified varieties giving the advantage of releasing the land for growing vegetables.
The zinc-enriched variety- named BRRI Dhan-62 is developed by Dr. Alamgir Hossain from Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI). Alamgir Hossain, a principal scientific officer at the plant breeding division of Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI), led the long and arduous process of zinc biofortification in rice since 2003.
The enriched zinc variety is expected to bring relief to an estimated 44 percent of Bangladeshi children under five who are at risk of zinc deficiency and consequent stunted growth.
About the project
The BRRI breeders developed the hi-zinc rice with support from Harvest Plus, which is a global biofortification mission launched back in 2004 under the Washington-based global agro-science coordinating body- Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).
The Harvest Plus programme, coordinated by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), provided assistance to both Bangladesh and India for pursuing the breeding work for developing zinc-enriched rice.
Importance of Zinc
• Zinc, iron and vitamin-A are the three most vital micronutrients, deficiency of which hampers children’s natural growth and decreases their disease prevention capacity.
• Nearly half a million children die each year in the world due to zinc deficiency. Over 17 percent of the global population is at risk of inadequate zinc intake while the regional estimated prevalence of inadequate zinc intake ranges from 7.5 percent in high-income regions to 30 percent in South Asia.
• The role of zinc in human body includes helping normal growth and development, maintenance of body tissues, vision, sexual function, and the immune system. Zinc deficiency causes stunting while zinc supplementation can reduce the severity of morbidity from a number of common childhood diseases including diarrhoea and pneumonia.
When: 25 August 2013