Experts at a function on Thursday laid emphasis on the consumption of bio-fortified zinc rice to enhance immunity against Covid-19 and free the children, women and common people from malnutrition-related complicacies.
The function was organised by HarvestPlus Bangladesh and World Vision Bangladesh (WVB) with assistance from the Department of Agricultural Extension at Pirgonj upazila council premises.
The event was arranged for distribution of zinc-enriched rice seeds among farmers with Global Affairs Canada funding under Enhancing Nutrition Services to Improve Maternal and Child Health (ENRICH) project.
HarvestPlus improves nutrition and public health by developing and promoting bio-fortified food crops that are rich in vitamins and minerals and providing global leadership on bio-fortification evidence and technology.
HarvestPlus is a part of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) Programme on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health based at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) at Washington DC.
Member of the Parliament from Thakurgaon 3 constituency Md Zahidur Rahman attended the function and distributed BRRI dhan74 and BRRI dhan84 varieties of zinc-enriched rice seeds among farmers as chief guest.
Presided over by Pirgonj Upazila Nirbahi Officer Rezaul Karim, 100 farmers of the upazila attended the function.
Pirgonj Upazila Agriculture Officer Agriculturalist SM Golam Sarwar and Project Officer of WVB Marufa Khatun spoke.
In his welcome speech, Officer-Agriculture Research and Development of HarvestPlus Bangladesh for Rangpur zone Agriculturist Ruhul Amin Mondol said 4,700 farmers of Pirgonj upazila will receive 5kg of zinc enriched rice seeds each.
Some 25,000 farmers in all five upazilas of Thakurgaon will receive 125 tons of zinc-enriched BRRI dhan74 and BRRI dhan84 rice seeds for cultivation on 5,000 hectares of land to produce 25,000 tons of zinc-enriched rice during this Boro season.
Agriculturalist Sarwar said zinc deficiency hinders physical and mental growth of children, cusses apathy to meal intake, skin disease, disease infestation, memory-loss, diarrhea and pneumonia.
“Intake of zinc-enriched rice reduces infertility and increases immunity in the human body,” he said.
Thakurgaon Civil Surgeon Dr Mahfuzar Rahman Sarkar said: “We find this initiative to cultivate zinc-enriched rice very encouraging in the fight against Covid-19.”
The chief guest lauded HarvestPlus for promoting nutrition and public health through disseminating micro-nutrient-rich bio-fortified food crops in Bangladesh and providing global leadership to the expansion of bio-fortification technologies.
He called for expanding cultivation, production and consumption of bio-fortified zinc rice to meet nutrition and enhance immunity of the population against COVID-19 infection.