Bangladesh imports 90 per cent of its requirement of rice seeds from China, though importing it from India would have cost the country far less.

Experts from India and Bangladesh feel it is the trade barriers between the two neighbours that are coming in the way of open trade.

Supporting India as trade partner, Deputy High Commissioner of Bangladesh to India Abida Islam said the import of rice seeds from India would be cheaper, but for the lack of formal trade.

“There exists informal trade in rice seeds between the two neighbours and that needs to be formalised as farmers on both sides are suffering from the lack of formal trade and marketing channels,” she said.

Under an initiative by the Jaipur-based CUTS International, various organisations from India and Bangladesh have come together on a joint platform to address trade barriers and formalise informal trade in rice seeds which is happening on both sides of the border.

Bangladesh is a net rice seed importer with an estimated import market size of $ 5.9 million in 2010-11.

According to figures from the International Trade Centre, China meets more than 90 per cent of rice seed orders from Bangladesh.

India’s exports to Bangladesh remain negligible, accounting for less than 3 per cent of its total exports.

Sudhir Chandra Nath, Head of Agriculture and Food Security Programme of BRAC Centre in Bangladesh, said they are mostly importing hybrid rice seed varieties from China, which has higher yield than Indian varieties.

However, many of those varieties are not suitable to consumption patterns in Bangladesh.