Bangladesh can go for the Chinese perennial rice farming to reduce both cost and labour through introducing a sustainable crop production system.
“If Bangladesh wants to further enhance bilateral cooperation in this field of food production, we’re ready to extend our cooperation,” Kong Yang, deputy mayor of the Menghai county of China’s Yunnan province recently told a group of visiting Bangladeshi journalists.
A research institute of China’s Yunnan University invented the perennial rice farming technology a few years back and it was approved by Yunnan Crop Veracity Approval Committee in 2018 — selected as an International Agriculture Innovation Technology by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.
According to the Rice Research Centre for Perennial Rice Engineering and Technology, School of Agriculture of Yunnan University, the perennial rice technology consists of varieties developed by utilizing the rhizome trait of the wild rice species, Oryza longistaminata, and the related crop management techniques.
This technology enables the farmers to plant rice only once but continuously harvest for 3 to 5 years, during which there is no need for several common agricultural practices, such as purchasing seeds, seedling nursery, ploughing fields and transplanting.
“Therefore, this technology represents an efficient and sustainable rice production strategy, which is characterized by its environment-friendliness and cost effectiveness. Research on this technology is of theoretical innovation and thus is a cutting-edge field,” the research centre said in its brochure.
Explaining the comparison between the seasonal and perennial rice production methodology, the Chinese officials said the production process of seasonal rice is complicated including steps like ploughing, hoeing, seeding, transplanting, harvesting, and requires laborious field management.
On the other hand, the perennial rice production process is straightforward. In the next season, as only crop management is needed before harvesting, labour input is greatly reduced, thus lowering the production cost.
“Seasonal rice production requires re-ploughing the fields every season, which needs a large amount of water and may cause serious soil erosion. Purchasing new seeds and seedling nursery are also necessary every season; both the production cost and labour input are high.
But, perennial rice production can largely conserve water; therefore, it is especially ideal for fields where planting rice is only suitable after the wet season. It may save about 30 percent of water consumption compared to traditional rice production.
“In perennial rice production, the fields are constantly covered with rice plants, which can enlarge the carbon sink and reduce soil erosion. Thus it is a sustainable rice production strategy,” said an official of the Digital Agriculture Museum of Menghai Manxiang Yuntian Agriculture Development Company Ltd.