The government has undertaken an initiative to enhance agricultural research on spices with a view to increasing the production of local spices as well as developing foreign varieties in the country alongside lowering imports.
Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) will implement the research project in 194 upazilas of 64 districts by June 2022, spending Tk 94 crore.
The government thinks that cultivating spices alongside main crops will help increase incomes of local farmers and advance the agricultural economy as spices are important part of agro products.
The project saw approval from the highest economic policy making body Ecnec this week.
A total of 109 types of species are cultivated across the world of which Bangladesh imports only 44 varieties of spices and about 34 varieties are grown locally, official sources said.
Meanwhile, a large portion of arable land earlier used for spice cultivation has come under food grain cultivation. It resulted in slide off spice production in the country and the government has to meet the deficit through increasing import of spices.
With having a favourable weather for agriculture, Bangladesh has a huge potential for producing some varieties of spices less familiar in the country besides producing main spices like onion, garlic, chili, ginger, turmeric, coriander etc.
The government has already set up three regional and five sub-centres for spice research under the spice research centre in Bogra to lower the import dependency. Since its inception, the central research centre in Bogra has so far developed 33 high yielding varieties of spices, 84 improved production method and improved technologies for soil and water management, disease and pest control and harvesting.
The initiative has been taken to increase local production of less familiar varieties as some foreign spices are totally import dependent because of their high demands in the country.
Besides increasing spice production in the country, the government also plans to commercialise spices of standard quality to create jobs for the target people and increase their incomes.
The initiative also eyes to develop processed spices during the post-harvesting period and diversify them, and develop varieties for problematic and disaster-prone areas.
The project activity includes research and development on new varieties and popularizing them, producing breeding seeds, creating packages for different regions and problems, and developing quality planting materials to enhance productivity, among others.