Faridpur, Jan 22 (UNB) –Bumper production of bean and its fair price have delighted the farmers of Sadarpur upazila in the district this year.
Six unions of the upazila- Krisnapur, Sadarpur, Charbisnupur, Charnachipur, Bhasanchar and Akoterchar- saw bumper production of the winter vegetable.
The growers have been successful in cultivating two new varieties of bean -- BARI-4 and IPSA-1-- in the upazila which brought good luck for them.
Visiting Shoilodubi area of Krishnapur union in sadarpur upazila the UNB correspondent found huge beans hanging from each plant and farmers are busy to pluck those for selling.
Farmer Alam Bapary of Shouldubi village said he cultivated bean on 20 decimals of land spending Tk 6,000 and got Tk 20000-30000 profit last year.
“This year, I cultivated bean on 65 decimals of land spending Tk 18000-20000. I am optimistic to get better price than last year,” he said.
Local bean farmers said these beans are regularly sent to different parts of the country including Karwan Bazar, Shyambazar, Madaripur.
Another farmer Abdul Malek Morol of Karirhat village said he cultivated bean on 33 decimals of land this year spending Tk 9,000.
“I have already got back my capital. Beans are still being sold at good rate,” he said.
Farmer Shukkur Ali of Shouldubi village said he has already sold bean of Tk 40,000 this year. Favorable weather and fewer insects are the main cause of good production, he mentioned.
Jonayat Ali of Charbishnopur village said he cultivated bean on 33 decimals of land this year and sold the vegetable at Tk 15 to Tk 20 per kilogram and Tk 520 to Tk 550 per maund.
Upazila Agriculture Officer Bidhan Roy said about 90 hectares of land have been brought under bean cultivation in the area this year.
Bean traders from different areas come to the upazila to buy bean every day, he said.
Dhaka, Jan 22 (UNB) - Although vegetable production increased by 35.24 percent over the last five years (from2013-14 to 2017-18 FY) in the country, the consumption rate is still poor for various reasons, including its high price at the consumer level, said agriculture experts.
According to officials at the Department of Agricultural Extension (DoAE), some 26,230,927 metric tonnes of vegetables were produced in 2017-18 fiscal year from 1,169,326 hectares of land, while 19,396,755 metric tonnes in 2013-2014 fiscal year from 9,68827 hectares.
“Additional 26,47,786 metric tonnes of vegetables were produced in 2017-18 fiscal year compared to 2016-17 FY. 19,984,334 metric tonnes produced in 2015-2016 fiscal year, while it was 21,041,406 metric tonnes in 2014-15FY,” according to annual data of the department.
Besides, 7,30,991 metric tonnes root-crops/vegetables (excluding potatoes) were produced in 2017-2018 fiscal year against 5,72,946 metric tonnes in the previous year, the data revealed.
Talking to UNB, agro experts said many people in the country cannot take required amount of vegetables every day despite huge production due to exorbitant prices of vegetables thanks to the presence of middlemen at different levels and the widening gap between production cost and the prices the consumers pay.
They also suggested boosting organic vegetable production across the country.
Chief scientific officer and head of Vegetable Departmental of Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) Dr Golam Morshed Abdul Halim told UNB that a healthy individual should take 300 grams of vegetable every day but the people of Bangladesh take just one-third of it.
Besides, 35-40 percent of total vegetables are wasted from production to consumption levels due to the absence of storage facility and better transportation system, he said.
“Around 150 varieties of vegetables are cultivated in our country. Of them, 35 types are commercially cultivated. Many farmers use pesticides to make more profit but it’s harmful to our health,” he said.
Although Bangladesh ranked 3rd in vegetable production in the world but the production is not sufficient to meet the demand of its growing population. “We should increase vegetable production by three times more than the current figure,” he also said.
Dr Md Ashraful Islam, a professor of Horticulture at Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU) said, “Many farmers use harmful chemicals while producing vegetables not knowing its bad impacts on human health. Awareness should be developed among farmers about chemical-free vegetable production.”
“Around 30 or 40 percent children of the country suffer from vitamin deficiency for not taking enough vegetables,” he added.
Dr. Sumon Chowdhury, a physician at Dr MR Khan Shishu Hospital and Institute of ChildHealth, said,“Now farmers use pesticides in vegetable increasing the health risk of people. The intake of poisonous food for a long time can cause various diseases, including stomach cancer. We must take huge pure vegetabledaily.”
Sabina Yesmin, an assistant horticulturist at the Department of Agricultural Extension, said, “We’re trying to increase vegetable production in our country. The areas which remain inundated for nearly six months have also been brought under vegetable cultivation through floating farm. So, the volume will further increase in the future.”
As per the DoAE data, 37,00914 metric tonnes of vegetables were produced in Dhaka, Gazipur, Manikganj, Munshiganj, Narsingdi, Tangail and Kishoriganj in 2017-18 fiscal year while 34,07740 metric tonnes in Bogura, Joypurhat and Pabna while some 273,237 metric tons (lowest) in Rangamati, Khagrachhari and Bandarban.
Gaibandha, Jan 21 (UNB) – Imbued with the light of education, Lutfor Rahman has been involved in spreading education to poor children living in the villages along the banks of the Brahmaputra River in the district, exceptionally in exchange of only one taka from each student since 1984.
Lutfar Rahman, himself a resident of Uria village in Fulchhari upazila, could have been labeled a ‘floater’, rendered homeless after his ancestral land and valuables were washed away by the mighty river in 1974.
Afterwards, he even could have been called a “Laundrywala”, as he opened a laundry shop in his village after the fatal erosion.
Now, his name takes only one adjective and that is ‘One Taka Master’, ever since he took up tuition as a profession, of course with a focus on teaching poor students in the area.
Lutfar Master has been conveniently spreading the light of education among students in Baburia, Madanpara, Dhulipara, Kangipara, Pulbandi and several nearby villages.
Then, he took shelter on the bank of Brahmaputra river in Gadhari village, which is only 7 kilometres away from his former native village and started imparting knowledge to poor children there since 1984.
The name may seem to be a name for demeaning someone to those unknown, but local people call him by this name, holding him in high esteem and, it perfectly goes with his familiarity for inculcating primary school students for only Taka 1 per day.
Now the 69-year old, who passed his Secondary School Certificate (SSC) examination in 1974, could not go for further education, and could not manage a job for his family as he had to instantly survive with his family members.
He, then, started reaching door to door in search of such students as are too poor to manage their money for tuition, averse to go to leave them away from schools
“I saw many poor children getting averse to education and, in many cases, leaving their education due to facing high price of tuition, that prompted me to involve in this profession to do something for those, and that, at the same time ekes out my family subsistence.
“I take only one taka from each of my student after daily tuition, and thus I have five batches consisting of at least 25 students that, in total, brings me around TK 3,000 to 3,500 every month,” said master Lutfar. “My 4-member family is dependent on the paltry amount but makes it somehow.”
“I started tuition in 1984, when I used to receive only 25 paisa, that also would suffice for my family with a struggle like this today,” he continues.
Akhtar Majhi of Madanpara in the upazila said, "We are poor people and cannot afford to bear expenses of our children. The private master or coaching centre takes TK 200 or TK 300 as compensation. We cannot afford it. So, we must go to Tk 1 master. He is as we expected a truly great, great teacher, better than any other tuition options.”
About the teaching of the Tk 1 Master, one of his students Ruhul Alam who is currently working as an NGO worker said, “During our childhood, Sir (Lutfar Rahman) had been a constant mobile school for children, we all used to gather round him for even taking our lessons.”
“Militancy does present a huge loss of our people and country, I hope my students will not indulge in militancy, they would be as rational as a human should be,” said the master.
“There is no substitute for education to create a poverty-free society,” he said. “I motivate my students to spread the light of education as best as they can.”
Dhaka, Jan 21 (UNB/IPS) - Polythene bags are everywhere – literally – and the world is not sure how to deal with them. Shopping bags made from polythene have become ubiquitous, showing up everywhere from the summit of Mount Everest to the deep ocean floors to polar ice caps.
The main concern is the environmental challenge they pose. There have been attempts to create environment-friendly alternatives but nothing has worked – until now. A Bangladeshi scientist says the South Asian country has the answer.
Professor Dr Mubarak Ahmed Khan and his team have created a type of polythene from jute cellulose that looks and feels like plastic but – according to him – is ‘completely’ biodegradable.
“This means, the bag will not cause any harm to the environment when it decomposes,” Dr Mubarak, a scientific adviser to Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation, told UNB. “The colour used in the bag is extracted from vegetables and the binder is the same edible one used in capsules.”
The bag, named ‘Sonali’ after the moniker of jute, can support more weight than conventional polythene bags, he says. It can survive about five hours in water and gradually melts after this period. It takes the bag five to six months to decompose on land.
“If the bag is thrown into water, it’ll decompose and become food for fish because it has cellulose. Burn it, you’ll get ashes that can be used as fertiliser,” he says. “It’s compostable and biodegradable.”
Dr Mubarak says the so-called biodegradable polythene bags that are coming to the market are mostly made from starch and they contain plastic. “What makes our biopolymer stand out is that it doesn’t have any plastic in it,” he says.
A lasting affair
Polythene bags are cheap to make and durable. By 1979, shortly after they became available, polythene bags controlled 80% of Europe’s bag market, according to UN Environment. In the following years, they replaced almost all paper bags around the world.
Last year, the UN estimated that polythene shopping bags were being produced at a rate of one trillion a year.
But they take hundreds of years to decompose. After breaking down, polythene bags turn into microplastics and nanoparticles that contaminate the soil and water. Scientist Jacquie McGlade told a UN conference that microplastics had been detected in environments as remote as a Mongolian mountain lake and deep sea sediments.
Humans are affected when these particles enter the food chain. The adverse effect of polythene on the marine life is well documented. They are said to have the same effect on human beings just as they have on the environment.
A 2016 UN report called Frontiers noted that the presence of microplastic in foodstuffs could potentially increase direct exposure of plastic-associated chemicals to humans and may present an attributable risk to human health.
Last year, scientists found microplastics in human stools for the first time. The finding suggests that they may be widespread in our food chain.
“Polythene is like poison,” Dr Mubarak says. “One should not drink it even if it is given for free.”
The ‘Golden’ Hope
There is no data on the daily or annual demand and production of polythene bags in Bangladesh. An environmental organisation estimated last year that the residents of capital Dhaka use 14-15 million pieces of polythene bags every day.
Polythene is considered to be one of the main reasons for the clogging of drains. In 2002, Bangladesh banned thin polythene, becoming the first country in the world to do so.
Eight years later, the government formulated the Mandatory Jute Packaging Act making the use of jute bags compulsory instead of plastic sacks for packing paddy, rice, wheat, maize, sugar and fertiliser.
But lax implementation of the law means polythene bags are still widely available and used throughout the country.
Dr Mubarak says he chose jute because of its abundance in Bangladesh. Only 30% cellulose can be extracted from a full-grown tree but jute has 70% cellulose and needs about three months to mature.
It took the scientist and his team about a decade to invent Sonali Bag.
“We started around 2008 and had a breakthrough about seven years later. We finally made it in 2017,” he says. The research was government funded.
Bangladesh is in talks with a foreign company for sourcing machines to start commercial production. Dr Mubarak says cost is one of the barriers to the bag’s popularity. “The price will come down when we go into mass production,” he says.
“But if you consider the environmental cost, then a Tk-10 Sonali Bag is cheap,” the scientist says. “Because of its properties, it can be a substitute not just for traditional polythene bags, but also other plastics.
NB: This report is produced by United News of Bangladesh (UNB) and Inter Press Service (IPS)
Dhaka, Jan 20 (UNB) - Bangladesh can explore more ways with much importance on “moral diplomacy” reaching out to everyone in global society to put pressure on Myanmar for ending the Rohingya crisis, says a US professor.
“States and citizens of the world must engage to put such pressure on Myanmar and its supporters,” Prof Mohammad A Auwal of Department of Communication Studies, California State University, USA told UNB.
Prof Auwal, also a senior research fellow of Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI) who visited Rohingya camps recently, laid emphasis on networking with and supporting local and international human rights and church groups that seek to end the Rohingya sufferings.
He recommended organising high-profile interfaith trips to Myanmar to open opportunities for change through dialogue saying moral diplomacy with a moral consciousness is a potentially effective approach to the conflict.
Acting BEI President M Humayun Kabir said Bangladesh can do more to reach out to Myanmar society and try to influence people at policy level but noted that Myanmar’s political structure is very difficult one.
“But we can work and can make a serious effort,” he said adding that not Myanmar only, Bangladesh can intensify its efforts to reach out to India, China, Russia, Japan and even the USA.
The former Bangladesh Ambassador to the USA said this (Rohingya) is an issue which has a number dimensions -- humanitarian, rights and justice -- and from Bangladesh’s perspective it has a geopolitical challenge, too.
“This is a test case for our diplomacy. We need to solve this problem,” Kabir said adding that they also need to think of what will happen if it does not get resolved.
Prof Auwal said only pressure from the international community on Myanmar and its supporters remain a viable option.
He said big powers have aligned their policies with Myanmar out of their political or economic interests.
Given the geopolitical equations, Prof Auwal said, the best or reasonable option for Bangladesh is to negotiate bilaterally.
“Moral diplomacy, as I conceive it, has three components -- conventional diplomacy, public or citizen diplomacy and focus on soft power and nonviolence approach. Everyone can be a moral diplomat,” he said adding that moral diplomacy is a strategic communicative response.
Prof Auwal said moral diplomacy has a role for everyone including the state officials and citizens who care about human rights, human dignity, liberty, and justice.
“In this world society, we can reach out to almost anyone. We must have faith in the innate human goodness. We can expose the character of the criminals or immoral powers,” he mentioned in his paper presented here recently.
The Rohingya crisis is thorny because of the recent shift in the regional or even global geopolitics over the recent decades, he observed calling on the governments to stop supporting the inhumane policies of Myanmar at the expense of their values and soft power.
Earlier, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen said the Rohingya issue will remain a priority one for the government. “I think this problem won’t be solved easily. So, we’ve to overcome many hurdles.”
Emphasising the importance of stability and development in the country and beyond, the Foreign Minister said if stability prevails, development will take place and everyone in the region will be benefited from it (stable atmosphere).
“The international community has a big responsibility for their (Rohingyas) repatriation and rehabilitation,” he said adding that the interest of Myanmar, India, Thailand and China, not only Bangladesh, might be affected if the Rohingya crisis remains unresolved.
Terming the Rohingya issue a very serious one, the Foreign Minister laid emphasis on further analysing economic, social and security impacts and subsequent consequences due to the Rohingya crisis.
Minister Momen briefed diplomats stationed in Dhaka recently and thanked the international community for their support.
He hoped that the international community would continue to play a constructive role in resolving the Rohingya crisis which lies in their safe, sustainable and dignified return to Myanmar.
The international community appreciated Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s humanitarian support to over 1.1 million Rohingyas from Myanmar.
Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed to begin the first batch of Rohingya repatriation on November 15 last year but it was halted due to lack of a conducive environment in Rakhine State, the place of origin for Rohingyas.