The Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) recently released a new zinc rice variety, BRRI dhan72. The variety, developed with support from HarvestPlus, has higher zinc content and is higher yielding than two previously released varieties.

“This variety is developed for farmers who want to have better yield along with higher zinc content in rice,” said Khairul Bashar, the HarvestPlus Country Manager for Bangladesh. HarvestPlus and partners plan to start disseminating the new zinc rice variety to farmers starting in early 2016.

Partha Biswa, the lead breeder of BRRI dhan72, highlighted the new variety’s qualities. “It will have an average yield of 5.7 tons per hectare, but with proper care the yield can go up to 7.5 tons. The first zinc rice varieties yield 4.5 tons per hectare,” he revealed. “BRRI dhan72 also contains about 9 percent protein and 23 milligrams of zinc per kilogram of rice.”

The Director General of BRRI, Jiban K. Biswas, noted that BRRI dhan72 would suit farmers who cultivate three crops a year. “It is a farmer-friendly variety, which takes only 125 days to harvest,” he said. That duration is 20 days less than the most popular non-zinc rice varieties, meaning farmers can plant a short-duration crop before the next rice planting season.

BRRI dhan72 was developed conventionally in a process known as biofortification, and is suitable for the high and medium highlands, particularly for the southern part of the country. It is the third zinc rice variety to be released in Bangladesh. The earlier varieties, BRRI dhan62 (2013) and BRRIdhan64 (2014), were released for the monsoon (Aman) and dry (Boro) seasons, respectively.