August 18, 2014

18/08/2014: New rice with higher zinc and greater yield potential

A year after releasing the world's first zinc-enriched rice variety, Bangladeshi breeders have come up with another rice variety with higher zinc content and greater yield potentials, reports The Daily Star.
Bangladeshi rice farmers show off their new crop

High-zinc rice -- Brri dhan-62 -- released late last year contains around 19 to 20 parts per million (ppm) zinc against 14 to 16 ppm in other high-yielding rice varieties. However, the ready-for-release rice breed contains zinc as high as 25 ppm.

Zinc, iron and vitamin-A are the three most vital micronutrients, deficiency of which hampers children's natural growth and decrease their disease prevention capacity. In Bangladesh, over 40 percent children under five are stunted while an estimated 44 percent children of the same age group are at risk of zinc deficiency.

Scientists involved in the breeding process confirmed that the latest rice variety is more productive than the high-zinc rice already released. Average yield of Brri dhan-62, meant for rain-fed Aman season, is 4.2 metric tons (MT) per hectare while the proposed hi-zinc line -- Brri dhan-64 -- has yield potentials of over 6 MT per hectare.

The National Seed Board (NSB) is scheduled to consider the release of Brri dhan-64 at its next meeting later this week, sources at the Ministry of Agriculture told The Daily Star.

Both Brri dhan-62 and Brri dhan-64, which are capable of fighting diarrhoea and pneumonia-induced childhood deaths and stunting, have been developed by Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) breeders through application of biological fortification (biofortification).

Biofortification is a process, in which plant breeders search for seeds having high nutritional value among existing varieties of crops. They then crossbreed the high-nutrient varieties with high-yielding varieties to provide seeds with high yield and increased nutritional value.

Read more HERE.

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