Farmers in Gazipur who were given the controversial Bt brinjal saplings have said they would no more cultivate the genetically engineered crop as the cultivation has ruined them.
During a spot visit on Monday at four Bt brinjal fields in Gazipur, New Age found that Bt brinjal plants faced several troubles – they did not grow up and came under attack of different pests including shoot borers.
Bangladesh Agriculture Research Institute officials were also found removing the institution signboard set up at Masud Sarker’s Bt brinjal field at Baraid village of Kaliganj upazila.
‘Other farmers mock me and laugh at me seeing the miserable condition of Bt brinjal…Remove the signboard from my field and I would cultivate local brinjal,’ Masud expressed anger to the visiting officials.
Masud was given 1,100 saplings of Bt brinjal. He told New Age that he had followed all the instructions of the institute.
One of the visiting officials said, ‘There was no need to keep the signboard as Masud would cultivate local brinjal due to the flop of Bt brinjal.’
The director general of the institute, Rafiqul Islam Mondal, however, told New Age on Tuesday that the signboard was removed from Masud’s field as it contained a wrong logo of the BARI.
But the photos taken during the visit showed no difference between the logo portrayed on the signboards at Masud’s filed and other other Bt brinjal fields.
Haidul Islam, another Bt brinjal farmer at Saitalia village of Sripur upazila, had already cleared half of the land and replaced Bt brinjal plants with local brinjal saplings. Struggling plants of Bt brinjal were seen in the rest of the field.
His wife broke down and cried while describing the huge loss of her husband for this season because of ‘wrong’ decision of cultivating Bt brinjal.
She said that it was the only land of her husband who ran the family on the vegetable cultivation.
Demanding compensation, Haidul said that the institute gave him only Tk 4,000 for cultivation but he would get about Tk 1.5 lakh had he cultivated local brinjal.
Most of the Bt brinjal plants in the field of Majibur Rahman at the village were found dead and the rest were dying.
Majibur said that his plants were growing well but suddenly came under attack of pests and started dying although the institute had claimed that BT brinjal was pest-proof.
He said, ‘Why the BARI made me a guinea pig? Why they make experiments on Bt brinjal in lands of poor farmers like me?’
Another field of Bt brinjal at Baraid village of Kaliganj upazila was found better than the three other fields, but the plants came under attack of shoot borer.
The institute released the saplings claiming that Bt brinjal was resistant to fruit and shoot borer.
Kaliganj upazila sub-assistant agriculture officer Shahin Miah was present at the field while the farmer, Munsur Sarker, was showing shoot borer larvae riving the plants.
Shahin said that he would send the report to the institute.
When asked about the shoot borer attack, the institute director general said that he was yet to get the report from the agriculture officer.
Replying to a query, he said that the institute provided 20 farmers with Bt brinjal saplings and 13 of the fields saw no success.
The genetically modified Bt brinjal was developed by US-based seed giant Monsanto, its Indian affiliation Mahyco and BARI. India and Philippines have already banned the cultivation of genetically modified crops.