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Wednesday, August 07, 2002

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Tagore's death anniversary observed

Staff Correspondent, The Daily Star

Baaishe Shrabon -- the 22nd day of the month of Shrabon, the day on which Tagore expired -- was observed yesterday. Admirers of Tagore fondly remembered him with songs and poems that are replete with his philosophy about life and death.

This year round, Bangla Academy, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, Bangladesh National Museum made special arrangements to pay homage to Kabi Guru on his 61st death anniversary.

Tagore was the first Indian poet to be awarded with the Nobel Prize for literature in November, 1913 for his translated Gitanjali (Song Offerings), in which Tagore tried to find inner calm and explored the themes of divine and human love. The poems were translated into English by Tagore himself when he was on his visit to Shilaidaha in Kushtia.

Bangladesh takes special pride in being historically linked to the making of the greatest of works of Tagore that earned him the Nobel prize.

Tagore died in Calcutta in 1941.He was knighted in 1915 by King George V, which Tagore revoked in 1919 in protest against the Amritsar massacre in which the British troops killed 400 civilians.

Tagore served as a bridge between the east and the west. A great champion of humanity, Tagore had embraced life in his stories, essays, songs, dramas, and fictions. He has trodden almost all realms of art and culture, thereby becoming an icon for the Bengali nation, breathing all its passion and aspiration.

Newspapers published special articles on Tagore's death anniversary and electronic media aired special programmes to mark the day.

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UNFPA to provide $ 1 m for FP activities

BSS, Dhaka,, The Daily Star

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) will provide one million US dollars to Behaviour Change Communication (BCC) unit of the Directorate of Family Planning to strengthen its activities for three years (2003-2005).

UNFPA Assistant Representative M Nurul Ameen disclosed this at a joint meeting between UNFPA and the BCC at Family Planning Directorate in the city on Monday.

Presided over by Line Director of BCC Ahmed Kabir Haidari, the meeting reviewed the activities for the last six months and drew a work-plan up to December 31, 2002.

Speaking on the occasion, Ameen requested BCC officials to expedite implementation of the remaining activities and accomplish the programme within the stipulated time.

Haidari assured the UNFPA official that the new initiatives proposed under the new programme will be implemented on schedule.

The UNFPA assistance is expected to immensely benefit the overall family planning programme in the country.

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Vitamin-rich rice to be grown soon

BSS, Gazipur, The New Nation

Scientists of Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) are working intensively for the development of a vitamin-rich modern variety of rice that would meet the nutritional needs of people.

"The trangenic beta-carotene-rich golden rice is likely to be developed within the next three years," Dr S B Siddique, director general of BRRI told BSS on Tuesday.

The rice is being developed transferring the gene of vitamin- rich yellow daffodil flowers into BRRI 29 variety of rice which had been developed by the institute in 1994, he added.

Beta-carotene is a type of vitamin A, the deficiencies of which in human body cause night-blindness. Recent studies suggest that beta- carotene also reduces the risk of cataract, cancer and heart attack and stroke.

Beta-carotene occurs naturally in orange-coloured fruits and vegetables and dark green, leaky vegetables.

Some other good sources of beta-carotene are sweet potatoes, spinach and carrots.

M Alamgir Hossain, senior scientific officer of the plant breeding division of BRRI, said Germany and Switzerland first developed the vitamin-rich varieties of rice using genetic engineering technology.

The BRRI is receiving cooperation for the development of the rice from International Rice Research Institute based in Manila, he said.

The institute is also working for the development of a super rice variety that would have long panicles with densely located grains.

Twelve to 14 tonnes of the rice with medium-fine grain could be grown on per hectare of land against six to eight by normal rice.

The BRRI has already developed 41 varieties of high-yielding rich and 20 of its varieties are now even grown in 12 countries of the world, including India, China, Vietnam, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar.

The rice varieties developed by the BRRI are cultivated in 63 percent paddy fields of the country that give 78 percent of the country's total rice output.

The institute now preserves the germplasm of 7,500 types of local and foreign rice in its gene bank for research.

Dr S B Siddique said the research projects of the BRRI was now attaching more attention to the development of salt, cold and heat tolerant modern types of transplanted Aman rice with short life duration.

"It would give the farmers a chance to reap more crops from the same field and cut poverty," he said.

He said the rice technologies innovated in the country was enough to meet domestic foodgrain demands, but their low application was presenting a drag on the achievement of the target.

Projecting the future of rice cultivation in the country, he said if the present population growth rate continued, the population size would stand at 17 crore 20 years later when the farmland would shrink to 7.9 million hectares from the current 8.4 million.

The country's rice production must be increased by one and a half times or five tonnes per hectare from the existing three tonnes to meet the food demands, he said.

Expressing optimism, he said research for the development of hybrid and high-yielding rice varieties was continuing what would be able to raise rice production by 15 to 20 percent.

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