23 June, 2021

Framing Future Bangladesh (FFB) has conducted a two – day long capacity building training event titled ‘Role of Imams in Bangladesh in Ensuring Food Security through Agricultural Innovation and Applications of Agribiotechnology’ for imams from the Imam Training Academy (ITA) at Institute of Architects Bangladesh (IAB), Agargaon, Dhaka on June 22-23, 2021. Over one hundred ITA listed imams took part the capacity building training.

The aim of the capacity building program was to provide an opportunity for Imams to interact with renowned public research institutes, scientists, academia, extension officials and development partners to talk about the issues, prospects, challenges, and innovations in agriculture and biotechnology. Which in turn is expected to generate awareness among the masses. The program also aims for capacity building of the ITA’s enlisted Imams for evidence-based information sharing on agriculture, food and nutrition issues with an emphasis to the applications and benefits of modern agricultural innovations and agribiotechnology in Bangladesh.

The religious leaders were engaged and provided an expansive view of the applications and benefits of modern technology in agriculture, essentially on the prospect and progress of agri-biotechnology in achieving the food security, ensuring access to proper nutrition, safer and healthier food and protecting natural ecosystems. The training event also discussed the persistent gap between expert knowledge of scientific issues, public perception and acceptance of the technology in considering religious views specially aligned with the Islamic references.

“FFB strongly believes that the Imams are one of the most powerful and reliable influencers to help common people understanding the benefit of modern agricultural innovation in particular the applications of agri-biotechnology for safe and nutritious food”, said Md. Arif Hossain, CEO & Executive Director of Farming Future Bangladesh in his welcome note.

“This training was really helpful. We often get to talk and discuss about science and today I have learnt a lot about the modern technologies in agriculture. I believe that I can advocate others on the blessings of agri-biotech crops specially to the farmers of my community”- Participant from the program said. Another participant said, “it is time to accept the modern technology such as the biotechnology. Our religion has no restriction on applying and eating GMO crops as it is absolute safe, halal and even healthier.’’   

“It is difficult to truly and quantitatively predict the consequences of new technologies. But our religion always supported science and innovation which is good for humankind.” said Mr. Malik Sayed Haider, Trainer, Imam Training Academy, Islamic Foundation

Dr. Mohammad Nazrul Islam, Associate Professor and Chairman, Sher-a Bangla Agricultural University called on religious leaders to advocate for scientific innovations and said, “It will be nearly impossible for humans to exist without taking or adopting the agricultural innovation. Agri-biotechnology and climate smart agricultural solutions are ensuring ample production with nutrion intake which is needed for developing countries like Bangladesh.

In the program, Dr. AKM Quamruzzaman, Principal Scientific Officer of Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) shared how BARI is working to develop new varieties of crops to address the growing needs adopting agri-biotechnology to ensure food security in Bangladesh.

Muhammad Rafiqul Islam, Director, ICT and Planning, ITA concluded the program with a Q/A session where participants took part an interactive session. He expressed his gratitude to FFB for the initiative to engage the religious leaders in mobilizing community and creating awareness on the benefits and opportunities of agri-biotechnology.

In the panel discussion during the training, FFB’s CEO and ED, Md. Arif Hossain said, “This pandemic and recent frequent flood have proven that we need modern agri-biotechnology which can fight against the climate, ensure food security for the increasing number of people of Bangladesh.”

Farming Future Bangladesh (FFB) is a comprehensive communication and community engagement organization, aimed to improve access to modern agricultural innovations including crop biotechnology in Bangladesh. Based in Dhaka, it operates under the auspices of Cornell Alliance for Science of Cornell University, USA with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. FFB is based on the premise that agricultural innovations are an important tool to help Bangladesh feed its 160 million people and give farmers and consumers access to safer, healthier, and nutritious food.