Bangladesh is the world’s seventh-largest producer of potatoes. Most of the crop is grown by small-holder farmers.
Akhter Hossain, a 46-year-old married father of three in the Chuadanga District, is one of them.
[H]e faces many challenges, including the high cost of inputs, a scarcity of cold storage facilities, and crop damage by insect pests and disease — particularly late blight disease (LBD).
To help small-holder farmers like Akhter Hossain, the Feed the Future Biotechnology Potato Partnership is using the tools of biotechnology to develop a genetically engineered potato resistant to late blight disease. By growing a disease-resistant variety, farmers will be able to reduce their use of fungicides and improve their yields, which means more money in their pockets at harvest time.
Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury recently reaffirmed the government’s support for genetically engineered (GMO) crop technologies to ensure sufficient food for the people of Bangladesh.
In 2014, Bangladesh approved the cultivation of genetically engineered Bt brinjal [eggplant], which can resist the destructive fruit and shoot borer pest. The production of Bt brinjal has helped farmers dramatically decrease their use of pesticides, and it also fetches a better price at the market due to its high quality.
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