Bangladesh’s Bt brinjal, maligned by activists, reduces pesticide use, boosts farmer profits

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Brinjal is a popular vegetable which is grown year round all over Bangladesh. The brinjal shoot and fruit borer is the key pest of brinjal in this country. For brinjal production, farmers spray insecticides at two to three days intervals (in one season 80-160 times) which are most harmful for public health and environment. The production cost of brinjal is increased due to frequent spraying of insecticides and even by frequent spraying of insecticides farmers do not get desired yield.

Now the farmers cannot successfully control this insect by using environment friendly IPM methods like sex pheromone trap and by removal of the infested shoots and other methods.

It was not possible to develop variety resistant to brinjal shoot and fruit borer by conventional breeding. The Bt gene (Cry1Ac) received from developed countries is introgressed in nine popular brinjal varieties in Bangladesh. The main advantages of Bt brinjal are-

– To save brinjal from the brinjal shoot and fruit borer
– Farmers can produce and preserve the Bt brinjal seed as Bt brinjal varieties are not hybrids
– Farmers do not need to depend on seed company for seed every year
– Farmers do not need to give any royalty to foreign company
– Due to the limited use of pesticides, there will not be environmental pollution and the health of farmers will remain good
– The production cost would be less and farmers will secure desired increased yield and consequently there will be increased income

In 2014-2015, Bt brinjal demonstrations plots were established in 108 farmers’ field across 19 districts in the country. Shoot and fruit borer infestation was not observed anywhere, resulting in increased production (on an average 25-39 ton per hectare) and farmers benefited.  Bt brinjal performed better than non Bt brinjal in all districts.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: Speech by Dr. Md. Rafiqul Islam Mondal Director General, BARI