A legacy for posterity

Dhaka,  Thu,  20 July 2017
Published : 14 Jul 2017, 19:57:33 | Updated : 14 Jul 2017, 20:09:05
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Haripada and Haridhan

A legacy for posterity

A CLOSE LOOK
Nilratan Halder
Haridhan-famed Haripada Kapali has completed his life's journey at the ripe age of 95. He carried an enviable legacy of discovering and developing a rice variety outside of the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI). No one, however, knows when another like him will come to make the miracle possible. One hopes some farmer of his ilk in one corner of this lush green country will carry the baton. That the paddy sheaf he once found and nurtured, convinced that it could be a special breed, is the hallmark of a scientist. He may not have read Natural Science but the legacy he inherited from farming tradition of this land told him he had struck something novel.

His conviction was unwavering even when others around him dismissed his claim. Undeterred, the simple uneducated farmer used the paddy as seeds on a small seed bed. The next year he exclusively cultivated those seeds on a small plot of land. This time the yield was much higher than the similar type of rice developed by the BRRI. Those who were unconvinced of his experiment now asked for seeds from him and thus began the promotion of a special type of paddy called Haridhan (paddy named after Haripada).

Here is a story of a farmer who did not go for commercialisation of his achievement; rather he distributed seeds with the hope and words that the beneficiaries would do the same. He did not look for patent or cared for it. What Haripada accomplished simply by adopting the Darwinian selection process is a milestone in the history of rice research in this country. The unassuming man did not care much about his fame. What he really cared for was keeping the inquisitive mind alive not only in him but also in others, particularly the young ones. In effect, he meant to tell that Nature is a great teacher and one can learn so many things from it. His bend of mind was so and who could rival him in preaching such a life's lesson?

 Haripada has made farmers in this country proud. It is these people who have demonstrated their readiness to adopt to new methods of agriculture at every step. Agriculture scientists have developed so many high breed paddies, vegetables and fruits but without the farmers' active involvement at the field level, the country could not achieve food sufficiency in the country. The country's population has witnessed a burgeoning growth but the agricultural land has continued to decline. Still the staple, vegetable and fruit outputs have trebled and in some particular cases quadrupled.

Not all farmers are likely to rise to the stature of Haripada. But when news comes that so and so farmers have become millionaire by virtue of their fruit orchards, flower cultivation, vegetable farming etc; there the tradition of entrepreneurship in agriculture is noticed. Maybe, they are different from Haripada in the sense that they have used their talent for making money. There is no harm in doing so. There is no point remaining poor, particularly when they are contributing to the country's food output and doing so honestly.

Farmers are so ingenious that some are proving their mettle by farming exotic fruits and vegetables. Strawberry, dragon fruits are being cultivated with success. Broccoli and capsicum and cucumber of the exotic variety are commodities in demand in the upmarket and once those had to be imported. Now no more. Local farmers are good enough to meet the demand.

It is a pity that farmers are neglected because they are not shrewd in marketing their produces. Middlemen and wholesale traders eat the cream and they are deprived of fair prices for their perishable commodity. Here the government intervention could make a difference.

During the army-backed caretaker government an experiment with transportation of produces directly from field in Narsingdi to Dhaka market proved highly successful. Indeed, if the government provides trucks or railway wagons for carrying farmers' produces under a cooperative management, both consumers and farmers can benefit from the arrangement.

Due recognition of farmers can make this country better in more senses than one. Haripada received some recognition for his wonderful achievement but he surely deserved more. After all, his is an accomplishment that is likely to last for ever.
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