Bangladesh is expecting cold-tolerant rice varieties for haor (wetland) region that can be harvested before the start of seasonal flash flood.
To this effect, a five-year project was launched on Monday with an eye to developing short-duration, stress- and submergence-tolerant varieties.
The Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) in collaboration with the International Rice Institute (IRRI) have launched the scheme to be funded by Krishi Gobeshona Foundation (KGF).
It was revealed during a webinar on the project styled 'Development of Short-duration, Cold-tolerant Rice Varieties for Haor Areas of Bangladesh' hosted by the IRRI.
Additional agriculture secretary Kamalaranjan Das said rice cultivation in haor areas has been bearing the brunt of flash flood for years.
To tackle this, rice growers in the haor region need short-duration, cold-tolerant and high-yielding varieties, he added.
Mr Das said this new IRRI-BRRI initiative might help the country get a solution to this problem.
"This new project might help bringing a positive change in the lives of the Haor people and also contribute in food and nutrition security of the country."
Boro is the staple in haor, but flash flood in April caused by heavy rainfall upstream mostly submerges the entire Boro yield in this region almost every year.
Boro season usually begins in mid-November, but many farmers start sowing in late October to avoid floods.
That also means reproduction time falls in January-February, increasing the risk of winter diseases.
What haor farmers need is short-duration (120-140 days), cold-tolerant and high-yielding varieties that can be harvested before flash flood which usually occurs in the first week of April, said organisers.
The aim of this new project is to develop such varieties, they added.
BRRI director general Dr Md Shahjahan Kabir said the population in Bangladesh is rising at 1.37 per cent annually but arable land is decreasing at 0.4 per cent.
The global climate change has also been continuously challenging the country's food security, he cited.
Bangladesh has an estimated 1.26-million hectares of cultivable land in north-eastern haor areas where farmers can grow only Boro paddy every year as land remains submerged most of the time.
Flash flood often damages the lone crop variety, putting food security in jeopardy, Mr Kabir mentioned.
That is why, the BRRI and the IRRI have been trying to develop cold- and submergence-tolerant varieties.
KGF executive director Dr Jiban Krishna Biswas said Boro is sandwiched by two adverse conditions in haor.
Any deviation of these conditions damages crops, he added.
"So, this project is expected to develop varieties that could stand up to these adverse conditions-low temperature and flash flood-and also give high yield."
IRRI director general Dr Mathew Morrell said the critical climactic challenges that the haor areas in Bangladesh face are going to intensify in future due to global climate change.
Developing cold-tolerant, short-duration and high-yielding rice varieties is key to building resilience.