Bangladesh Unveils Genetically-Modified Cotton Varieties to Boost Yields and Reduce Imports

In a groundbreaking move aimed at transforming its cotton industry, Bangladesh has introduced two genetically-modified (GM) cotton varieties for domestic cultivation. The nation’s goal is to enhance cotton yields while diminishing its reliance on imports. This initiative follows the earlier introduction of Bt brinjal, a GM eggplant, in 2014.
The Agriculture Minister, Muhammad Abdur Razzaque, expressed his optimism during a seminar held at the Cotton Development Board office in Dhaka. He stated that by adopting these Bt and hybrid varieties, at least 20% of the country’s cotton demand, which amounts to around 1.5 million bales, can be fulfilled domestically. This development is particularly promising for Bangladesh’s textile and apparel industry, which heavily relies on cotton for export-oriented garment factories.
With approximately 8.5 million bales of cotton required by the spinning and weaving sectors to produce yarn and fabrics for export, the move towards GM cotton could significantly alleviate the current strain on imports. Presently, Bangladesh imports a substantial volume of cotton from various countries, including India, Pakistan, Brazil, Australia, Argentina, South Africa, and central Asian nations. This import expenditure totals approximately Tk 33,000 crore annually.
The new GM cotton varieties offer several key advantages. Bt cotton, for instance, boasts an average yield of 4,500 kg per hectare, a notable 15-20% higher than that of local cotton varieties. Furthermore, its production costs are 12-15% lower, providing a dual benefit of increased productivity and cost-effectiveness.
Bangladesh’s commitment to adopting genetically-modified crops reflects its determination to bolster its agricultural capabilities and reduce its dependency on external cotton sources. As the second genetically-modified plant to be introduced in the country, these cotton varieties represent a significant stride forward in ensuring sustainable and self-sufficient cotton production.
This progressive move is expected to reverberate positively throughout the country’s textile, apparel, and agricultural sectors, positioning Bangladesh as a key player in innovation, technology, and sustainable practices within the global cotton market.

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