Photo Blog- Bt Brinjal in Bangladesh

02 May 2016

In 2013 Bangladesh commercialised Bt eggplant, becoming the first developing country in the world to take a public sector genetically modified food crop to benefit smallholder farmers. Bt eggplant (or brinjal) carries a gene that makes it resistant to the main crop pest, fruit and shoot borer. This serious pest otherwise destroys over half the crop and forces farmers to spray toxic insecticides. Bt brinjal enables farmers to dramatically reduce their use of insecticides, by 80% or more, and thereby protect their health and the local environment.

This photostory illustrates the latest experiences of some of the farmers in Bangladesh who are currently growing Bt brinjal. These photos were taken by Feed the Future project leaders who visited these farmers and spoke with them in March 2016.

  • Farmer Saiful Islam with the first harvest of fruits for market from BARI Bt brinjal 4 variety of pest-resistant eggplant. Islam is also a local imam and a school-teacher as well as being a farmer. Resident of Bogra district in western Bangladesh, he grows Bt brinjal on 0.2 acres out of a total holding of 2.5 acres of land.

  • As his wife and daughter help with the harvest, farmer Saiful Islam weighs Bt brinjal fruits for the market. As a grower of conventional brinjal for five years already, he reported that he is so far pleased with the profitability of the new crop thanks to the reduction in pesticides.

  • Hafizur Rahman is willing to grow Bt brinjal. According to Hafiz had maximum harvest growing Bt brinjal in his 10 years of brinjal cultivation.

    Farmer Hafizur Rahman, resident of Tangail district north of Dhaka, is now on his second year of growing pest-resistant Bt brinjal. Already featured in both the New York Times and in a BBC documentary on GMOs, Rahman reports that he is getting his greatest harvest ever after growing brinjal for more than a decade, cultivating here on just over a tenth of an acre.

  • Md. Khalilur Rahman is  harvesting Bt brinjal from his field. He can sell all of the harvested brinjal because these are not damaged by FSB insect.

    Also in Tangail, farmer Md. Khalilur Rahman is harvesting BARI Bt brinjal varieties 2 and 3 on a very small plot less than a tenth of an acre in size.

  • Md. Khalilur Rahman’s Bt brinjal field.

    Farmers like Md. Khalilur Rahman, whose crop is shown here, are enjoying good harvests of Bt brinjal. The fruit is highly desirable because it is undamaged by pests, and can be sold in markets labelled as free from insecticide.

  • Fruiting stage of Md. Khalilur Rahman’s Bt brinjal field.

    Another shot of a heavy yield of Bt brinjal in the small field of Md. Khalilur Rahman, ready for harvest and for selling in the local market. Preliminary results from the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute show higher profitability for smallholder farmers like Rahman due to reduced pesticide inputs and spraying labor costs.

  • 68 years old Afzal Hossain is growing Bt brinjal for last three years. He is happy and willing to grow it in future.

    Farmer Afzal Hossain, of Rangpur district in Bangladesh, was one of the first farmers in the country to adopt Bt brinjal, and is now on his third year of cultivation. An elected leader in local village government, Hossain is growing Bt brinjal from his own saved seed on his plot of a third of an acre in size.

  • Afzal Hossain is happy harvesting Bt brinjal, which is not damaged due to FSB infestation.

    Afzal Hossain with a selection of fruits from his Bt brinjal harvest destined for selling in local markets. Like other farmers growing Bt brinjal, he has found effectively 100% protection from the fruit and shoot borer pest without the need for insecticide control.

  • Mature Bt brinjal harvesting for seed

    Mature Bt brinjal fruits are kept for seed saving at the local On-Farm Research Division station of the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute in Pabna region, Bangladesh. Seeds are fully fertile, so farmers can save seeds themselves and share with neighbours and family, with no royalties payable as the crop is owned in the public sector.