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Dhaka Tribune

Jute genome decoding shows value of funding research

Update : 20 Aug 2013, 03:46 PM

Well-deserved praise has been given this week to Dr Maqsudul Alam and the team of scientists at the Bangladesh Jute Research Institute (BJRI) who have decoded the genomes of two native varieties of jute and the fungal pests that attack them.

This breakthrough offers a chance for Bangladesh to develop new climate resilient and disease-tolerant varieties of jute which can overcome fungal attacks, reduce dependence on imported seeds and help the country boost jute production.

Competition from other cash crops and shrinking acreage has limited the country’s ability to produce the golden fibre which remains an important part of our heritage, but is no longer a dominant export earner.

BJRI’s vision in developing state of the art facilities for basic and applied research, in tandem with building human capacity to deal with intellectual property and patent issues, has enhanced the country’s scientific expertise and may now be used to capitalise on growing world demand for natural fibres such as jute.

This project, which may potentially be applied to benefit other crops, has allowed leading scientists to conduct cutting edge research in Bangladesh without having to join the brain drain to work abroad. That it has been accomplished on a fraction of the funding available in richer countries is an impressive achievement.

It demonstrates the importance of continuing to fund basic research as it provides multiple benefits. BJRI’s success should be used to stimulate more funding, both public and private, for scientific research.

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