• Bangladesh eyeing SLAC hybrid rice seeds

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    The Bangladesh government, through its Ministry of Agriculture, has expressed its intention in adapting hybrid rice seeds developed by SL Agritech Corp. (SLAC) as that country aims to expand and develop more rice areas for exports.

    Dr. Weijun Xu, SLAC international business officer in charge, said in a statement that Bangladesh recently sent a mission to the Philippines to look into hybrid rice seeds of SL Agritech for its export of fancy rice.

    The mission, led by Bangladeshi Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury, visited on May 23 SLAC’s Research Center in Barangay Oogong, Santa Cruz, Laguna.

    The delegation also visited the 252-hectare experimental field in Los Baños, Laguna of the International Rice Research Institute.

    “Chowdhury is interested in potential expansion of collaboration with SLAC after the Filipino-developed SL-8H has made a mark in Bangladesh’s hybrid rice sector, accounting for 20 percent of the seed supply,” Xu said.

    “They’re looking for a business on hybrid rice that they can plant and export. They want high-amylose rice for export,” he said.

    Xu, however, said that SLAC has yet to commit on any rice seed agreement, noting that the company is still studying the possibility of adding a new variety of hybrid rice to be produced in Bangladesh.

    At present, Bangladesh’s major export is limited to parboiled rice, since other countries have refused to allow their locally developed seeds to be planted there. Bangladesh just imports the seeds from other countries like India or China.

    “This is why the Bangladesh government is grateful that we have allowed them to produce SL-8H seeds right in Bangladesh’s farms, contributing to this developing country’s nonimportation of rice in 2013,” SLAC Chairman Henry Lim Bon Liong said.

    Lim noted that Bangladesh is trying to export rice after several years of importing around 500,000 metric tons of rice annually—with imports peaking to 1.48 million MT in 2011 based on a United States Department of Agriculture report.

    In April 2012, Bangladesh removed a policy banning export of aromatic rice. Its opportunities to export are ripe. It is noted to be presently world’s fourth-largest rice producer based on an estimated 34 million MT of rice production as of 2012.

    Lim said that for probable export, Bangladesh wants to plant a fancy rice hybrid variety that is similar to the Jasmine rice of Thailand.

    “They don’t want Jasmine rice [for their own consumption]. But they want to plant a similar high-amylose rice so they can export it,” he said.

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