Bt eggplant, the first genetically modified crop of Bangladesh, has witnessed significant success and the impact of the technology over these last few years since its commercial release in 2013. In the last season more than 30,000 farmers have adopted the technology and are enjoying the benefits of the product through management of the fruit and shoot borer – one of the most dreaded disease affecting eggplant cultivation.
In order to ramp up the adoption and educate the Bt eggplant seed value chain stakeholders, Feed the Future Biotechnology Partnership (FtFBP)- South Asia Eggplant Improvement Partnership has launched the Btbegun (বিটি বেগুন) app, currently available for android users on the Play Store. The iOS version of the app will soon be made available on App Store. The virtual launch event was held on September 15, 2020 with representatives from United States Agency for International Development, (UASID) – Bangladesh Mission, Cornell University, Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI), Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation (BADC), Department of Agricultural Extension, Bangladesh, FtFBP and Sathguru Management Consultants. Dr. Md. Nazirul Islam, Honorable Director General, BARI launched the event indicating this to be a red-letter day in the journey of Bt eggplant.
The app comes in at a crucial time when reaching out physically to the farmers and imparting education to the field officers and extension professionals has become a challenge due to the COVID -19 pandemic.
The app is targeted for use by farmers, seed dealers, extension professionals, marketing officers, field officials and researchers for accessing all relevant information related to Bt eggplant in Bangladesh. The app offers information related to the technology, cultivation and stewardship practices, pest and disease management, scientific publication, FAQs, Myths and Truths as well as video tutorials and success stories. It also enables farmers to access information about the sources of Bt eggplant seed from across various associated organizations of Bangladesh. The app allows farmers to record Bt eggplant sowing and harvest related information as well as post queries to experts seeking advice on specific issues related to the crop.
While the app has both English and Bangla interfaces, all the content has been presented in Bangla for ease of access by the farmers of Bangladesh. Currently about 30,000 farmers and 500 other value chain stakeholders have already registered in the Btbegun app at the time of its launch. The app is initially being rolled out for use by select user groups in Bangladesh, before making it available to farmers by the end of Sept 2020. It is anticipated that this app will not only be beneficial in educating the stakeholders but bring in paradigm shift in the adoption of Bt eggplant in Bangladesh.
The app has been developed under the aegies of United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded Feed the Future Biotechnology Partnership (FtFBP)- South Asia Eggplant Improvement Partnership project led by Cornell University in partnership with Sathguru Management Consultants and implemented by Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI).
First Published in : Cornell Chronicle