SL Agritech, Bangladesh sign hybrid rice seed production deal

SL Agritech Corp., the Philippines largest producer of hybrid rice seed, will expand its facilities by setting up a production unit in Bangladesh to help that country grow its rice output as requested by the Bangladeshi government

The company and Bangladeshi government on Friday signed a collaboration agreement on a 5,000-metric-ton (MT) production facility.

"We've been relying on the rice technology that SL Agritech has provided us since 2009. Harvest has never been this good since we adopted the hybrid technology," said S.MM. Nazmul Islam, additional secretary — or undersecretary — of the Bangladeshi Ministry of Agriculture and president of the Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corp.

Rice output in Bangladesh expanded by 100 percent to 12 MT per hectare after farmers adopted the SL 8H variety over the open pollinated varieties that was prevalent in his country, the government official told reporters in a press briefing.

Bangladesh has half the land area of the Philippines. Yet, it has 815 million hectares of cultivable land excellent for growing cereals like rice and wheat, the Bangladeshi official said.

"The demand for SL-8H seed is expanding gradually because of its high yield in Bangladesh. The projected production program of hybrid rice seed is 5,000 MT by 2014-2015 that's why we included contract farmers for production in 2011-2012," said SL Agritech president and CEO Henry Lim Bon Biong.

Bangladesh in 2009 produced 69 MT of SL-8H rice variety, and 400 MT of the same last year.

Using the same hybrid seed, Bangladesh intends to raise production to 700 this year and 1,000 in 2012.

"Just like the Philippines, we are also struggling to feed our people. Hunger is a problem not alien to us. Since rice is our staple, we are improving our production thru the technology that SL-Agritech has provided for us," said Bangladesh Ministry of Agriculture additional secretary Quazi Akhtar Hossain.

SL Agritech also has similar agreements with Vietnam, Cambodia, Nigeria and Myanmar. — VS, GMA News