Background Information leading to the formation of Bangladesh Association for Plant tissue Culture & Biotechnology (BAPTC&B):
Workshop in Plant Tissue Culture to create interest among related scientists:
In order to create an interest in the fast developing science of plant tissue culture among plant scientists, agriculture specialists and policy makers, a few staff members of the Botany Department, Dhaka University approached the Bangladesh Agricultural research Council (BARC) for funding an international conference on various aspects of tissue culture both from theoretical and practical point of view. Dr. Kazi Baduruddoza, the then Chairman of this organization bought the idea and provided adequate funds to organize a workshop in 1981. Selected scientists from various institutes and universities were participants. Among instructors were distinguished tissue culture scientists from all over the world: Professor T. A. Thorpe
from Canada, Professor M. C. Rush
from the USA, Dr. Deepak Pental from England, Dr. Krishnamurthy from the Fiji Islands, Late Professor YPS Bajaj, Professor Sipra Guha and Professor S.K. Sen from India, Late Professor Guzman and Dr. F. Z. Zapata from the Philippines, Dr. Goh from Singapore and many more. The proceedings were published with a set of recommendations made by the instructors with the cooperation of local scientists . The recommendations were forwarded to the British Council (BC) and other donor agencies. The response came only from the BC. They agreed to fund a 3-year exchange programme between Dhaka – and Nottingham University. A number of scientists from the Botany Department got trained in tissue culture techniques in Nottingham University. The Chief Technician from Nottingham University came for 6 weeks and helped set up the tissue culture lab in the Botany department, Dhaka University. In the meantime, the then Cholera Research Laboratory offered the use of their LAMINAR FLOW facilities to the students of the Botany Department, Dhaka University. Some Botany students took advantage of their generous gesture and completed their thesis work on such areas such as jute protoplast isolation and their culture. Request was sent to all general universities as well as to Bangladesh Agriculture University and research institutes to build their own tissue culture laboratories.
Greenhouse in the Science Museum to grow tissue culture-derived orchids:
The S&T Division awarded a liberal grant for the installation of a greenhouse next to the science museum in Agargaon in order to house the tissue culture propagated local and exotic orchids raised in the Botany Department, D.U. The Science Museum location was deliberately chosen. The purpose was to spark an interest among potential entrepreneurs to invest in setting up tissue culture based low cost industry. The greenhouse was set up in record time and indeed it created a potential clientele of entrepreneurs.
Tissue Culture Courses at the Graduate Level:
Tissue culture courses were introduced in Botany departments of almost all general and the agriculture universities. Some staff members and a few among those who passed out M. Sc. with specialization in tissue culture, did their advanced degrees of M. Phil. and Ph.D. from local universities and abroad. The end of eighties witnessed the growth of a sizeable number of plant tissue culture scientists. At this point it, it may be mentioned that on the request of the British Council, the former ODA arranged a visit of two British Tissue Culture experts, Dr. K.C. Shorts and Dr. A. Roberts in 1988 to Bangladesh. They visited tissue culture laboratories all over the country and saw facilities and the kind of research program that developed in Bangladesh. Among other things, they recommended that an association of tissue culture scientists be formed in Bangladesh to serve the cause of this emerging science.
Establishment of Bangladesh Association for Plant Tissue Culture & Biotechnology (BAPTC&B).
It's in this backdrop that some tissue culture scientists felt an urgent need to start a separate organization to promote the growth of science of tissue culture and run a biannual (six monthly journal) of its own devoted soley to tissue culture and related science. The society was formed in spite of some initial opposition as to the justification of the creation of a separate association, when some existing biological societies were hard hit due to financial constraints. The impressive record of past activities, proves that it was a good decision on the part of founder members to form the tissue culture association.
Journal of the Society:
The Society is regularly publishing the journal called "Plant Tissue Culture" in short <PTC> for the last eleven years ( #1 of volume 11 is due at the end of June) under the supervision of an efficient Board of Editors with Professor A. S. Islam as the Chief Editor. The journal has proved a popular medium for scientists of the Indian subcontinent, South East and the Middle East countries to publish their tissue culture related findings.
Three International Conferences and the 4th one is due in the 1st week of November :
The Society has organized THREE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCES in 1993, 1995 and 1999. In the second international conference, a joint session of the scientists, journalists, investors, bankers, entrepreneurs was arranged with Professor Mohammad Yunus, the Founder and the Managing Director of "Grameen Bank
" in the chair. The objective of the session was to create an investment climate to set up tissue culture based industry in Bangladesh on the pattern of some leading Asian countries like India, Thailand, Singapore, Sri Lanka, South Korea, Nepal etc. that were earning millions of dollars exporting tissue culture derived ornamentals in the form of cut flowers and potted plants. Among participants were big tissue culture magnets from India and Nepal.
The first two conferences created enough momentum for a few interested parties to consider seriously setting up tissue culture based industry. Within two years as many as six companies were set up, BRAC (formerly, Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee) laboratory being the largest. One lab was set up in Rajshahi focused mainly on commercial production of potato microtubers.
The 1999 Conference went on very well with a large number of distinguished scientists in the area of plant tissue culture and related disciplines. One of them was Dr. Mujeeb Kazi from CIMMYT. The then President of the Association could not attend the meeting; to mark the occasion he wrote a poem entitled, "Some Thoughts to Ponder as We Cross over to the 21st Century. " In a nutshell, the poem describes the programme of BAPTC&B and the progress it made until March 1999 in the realization of its objectives.
Now the Society is organizing the 4th International Conference on the first through fourth November, 2001. Please see the appropriate section for further information.
Bangladesh now a member of the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB):
Headed by Dr. Islam, BAPTC&B approached S&T Ministry to apply for membership of ICGEB. BAPTC&B soon realized that tissue culture without genetic engineering has limited uses; so it decided to broaden its scope of activities by bringing genetic transformation and genetic engineering within its fold; and hence its decision to approach S&T in order to obtain financial and technical help from ICGEB. Bangladesh is already reaping the benefit of being a member of ICGEB. Bangladesh has been recognized as an Affiliated Centre of ICGEB and now with its financial assistance and in collaboration with the Biochemistry Department of Dhaka University, BAPTC&B is organizing an International workshop on Novel genetic markers for crop improvement. The organizers of this workshop are: Dr. Syed Hadiuzzaman (President BAPTC&B and Professor of Botany, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh), Professor Haseena Khan (Biochemistry Department University of Dhaka, Bangladesh) and Glenn Gregorio (IRRI, Philippines).
Three years back, GoB's nominee, Professor Ahmed Azad elected to the Council of Scientific Advisors (CSA), ICGEB. Professor Ahmed A. Azad, is now serving the University of Cape Town, South Africa, as the Director of Research, Faculty of Health Science. CSA is the executive body of ICGEB and indeed it is a great honour to be elected to this prestigious body among tough competition in which the world's leading scientists on biotechnology take part. Professor Azad's capability as one of the world's leading vaccine biotechnologists and the relentless effort on the part of BAPTC&B to back up his candidacy with the help of GoB, made it possible for Professor Azad to be elected to this august body of CSA.