Quantifying potential economic benefits of blast-resistant biofortified wheat in Bangladesh: The case of BARI Gom 33

For the first time in history, the emergence of wheat-blast in Bangladesh has generated major food security concerns. The Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) together with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) developed and released the wheat variety BARI Gom 33 that is resistant to wheat blast and other common diseases. The new variety provides a 5-8% yield gain over the available popular varieties, as well as being zinc enriched. This study examines the potential economic benefits of BARI Gom 33 in Bangladesh. First, applying a climate analogue model, this study identified that more than 55% of the total wheat area in Bangladesh (across 45 districts) is vulnerable to wheat blast. Second, applying an ex-ante impact assessment framework, this study shows that with an assumed cumulative adoption starting from 2019-20 increasing up to 30% by 2027, the potential economic benefits of the newly developed wheat variety by 2029-30, far exceeds its dissemination costs. Even if dissemination of the new wheat variety is limited to only the ten currently blast-affected districts, the yearly average net benefits amount to USD 0.23-1.6 million. Based on the findings, the international donor agencies are urged to support the national system in scaling out the new wheat variety and wheat research in general to ensure overall food security in South Asia.