Agriculture department sees high yield potential
Two years ago, a woman in a remote countryside accidentally stumbled upon some highly potential sheaves of paddy, which held more grains than the common rice varieties.
Fatema Begum, now 65, of Bagerhat's Fakirhat upazila, gave it some thought and preserved the seeds for multiplication. Eventually, after a couple of seasons, she managed to grow more of this promising breed, which is now being called “Fatema dhan” after her.
Local agriculture department officials also see immense potential in the rice seeds developed by Fatema in Chakulia village under Fakirhat's Betga union. They also sent the rice samples to Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation (BADC) and Soil Resource Development Institute (SRDI) for tests and research.
Fatema recently told UNB that in 2016 she noticed a few paddy sheaves distinct from others while harvesting a hybrid rice variety during Boro season. "Those sheaves were much longer than others and the number of grains was almost double," she said.
Later, she separated those sheaves and processed them for the next season.
Seeing this rice yielding more than any other varieties, Fatema told her son Md Labuyat to cultivate these separately, she said adding that around 2.5 kilograms of rice was produced then.
"I processed all of those as seeds and persevered for the next season," she added. In the next season, she made saplings and planted those in around 42 decimal of land.
This rice looks like high-yielding BRRIdhan-28, Fatema said.
Her son Labuyat said the sheaf of this variety was much longer and broader compared to others.
"We have processed around 2,600kg ‘Fatemadhan’ this season. We preserved some for the next season and sold most of them for Tk400 per kg," Labuyat said.
People from different parts of the country came to Fatema's house to collect the seeds.
Deputy Assistant Agriculture Officer Solaiman Ali of Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) told UNB that they felt encouraged seeing high yield potential of the rice.
Another DAE official Motahar Hossain said, "This variety is cultivated in the Boro season. The seedbed was prepared in November and planted at the end of December. This type of rice can be harvested within 150 to 155 days of planting."
Motahar said the average length of each plant is from 115 to 130 centimetre, number of tillers is eight and the average height of each sheaf is 36 centimetres. The yield is above 11 metric tons per hectare.
"Rice samples have been sent to Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation and Soil Resource Development Institute for further research," he added.