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Brinjal, also known as eggplant, is one of the most important, inexpensive and popular vegetable crops grown in Bangladesh. In a densely populated area, the growth and production of brinjal is essential to the region and is a primary source of income for poor farmers. Given its importance, scientists and farmers have teamed up to find both economically sustainable and environmentally friendly ways to tackle crop losses and increase farmers’ incomes.
On his farm in northern Bangladesh, Anisur Rahman Sheikh has been growing brinjal for 10 years. While it’s not a difficult crop to grow, the impact of the fruit and shoot borer can be disastrous for brinjal farmers. “Two years ago, 50 percent of my crop was lost to the borer,” recounts Anisur. “I lost a lot of money and seriously considered giving up the crop altogether.”
Anisur’s business took an upturn with the introduction of Bt brinjal, a biotech plant developed to resist fruit and shoot borers. “Farmers are very happy with this variety,” says plant scientist Hasan Tanbir, who helped develop the plant and is excited to see his work help farmers. Not only have farmers’ incomes risen through increased yields, but the crop requires fewer insecticide applications to reduce pests that threaten it. “Bt Brinjal is very essential for these farmers,” says Hasan.