The first occurrence of wheat blast in Bangladesh was confirmed in wheat (Triticum aestivum) fields in February 2016 and re-occurred in the subsequent years. This study explores the potential of alternative use of current wheat land as a strategy to combat the disease. Economically feasible alternative crops would need to be cultivated in the current wheat area by implementing a potential ‘wheat holiday’ – that is discontinuing wheat cultivation for a few years – be it in the 10 blast affected districts, in blast vulnerable districts or the entire country. An ex-ante economic assessment procedure is applied to examine the potential economic gains (losses) of alternative wheat land use. Results indicate maize, lentils, onions and garlic show potential as feasible alternatives if done as a portfolio combination and with adequate support to ameliorate and ease the transition; whereas boro rice, gram and potato do not appear feasible. Still, considering market volatility, overall food security and logistic challenges, the findings do not support a potentially comprehensive, strict and permanent ‘wheat holiday’ across the entire country. Instead, the study calls for research funding for disease epidemiology and forecasting, as well as the development and dissemination of blast-tolerant wheat varieties and complementary practices targeted at Bangladesh and the broader South Asian setting as a more sustainable and feasible solution to combat and manage wheat blast.
Authors and Publishers
Mottaleb, Khondoker Abdul
Singh, Pawan Kumar
Land Use Policy is an international and interdisciplinary journal concerned with the social, economic, political, legal, physical and planning aspects of urban and rural land use. It provides a forum for the exchange of ideas and information from the diverse range of disciplines and interest groups which must be combined to formulate effective land use policies.
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