Dhaka, Jan 10 (UNB) - Amid the chilly atmosphere of winter, a gracious perk of the season is the galore of pithas sold and enjoyed by many in city streets. It is somewhat of homage to the glorious taste of our rural treats.
Since the beginning of the winter, makeshift pitha shops have sprung all over the Dhaka city where Bhapa and Chitoi pithas are sold aplenty, while other wintry delights such as Patishapta, and Pakon pitha can be found, too.
Street-side pitha sellers who constantly keep making different types of pitha (cakes) are seen in city’s key areas including Shahbagh, TSC, Paltan, Kakrail, Malibagh, Gulistan and even in the alleyways of other localities.
These treats mostly start selling from the afternoon while the majority takers are seen blooming after the dusk.
Nahid, a student of a public university, said every winter he rejoices the taste of pithas from such shops with friends at night. “It reminds me of my native home and childhood memories often,” he added.
Not only the consumers but also the sellers are happy to see the growing craving for pitha throughout the winter.
Sumon, owner of a pitha stall in Malibagh, said, “Eight pm is the prime time for me because customers mainly come in large numbers then. Cutting out all the expenses, I get to keep Tk 400-500 per night as profit.”
Moktar, another seller in Mouchak, said his income reached around Tk 2,500 every day by selling pithas.
Another important effect of the Pitha Culture in city streets is enjoying family times at evening.
Yunus Ahmed, a job holder, was seen eating pitha with his two daughters said after the office time it is a great hassle to spend time with family outside in recreation spots. “These shops are spread around my apartment building. I can take a stroll with my daughters and enjoy them as well,” he said.
Women from impoverished families earn livelihoods by selling pithas during the few months of winter.
Aklima, a pitha seller in Rampura, said the money she earns throughout the winter is a contribution to the family aside from her husband’s small income.
The prices of pithas vary from place to place. Chitoi pitha which is enjoyed with mustard and other spicy bharta (mashed spices) is priced at Tk 5 each while Bhapa is sold at Tk 10-20 depending on sizes. Other Pithas are priced at Tk 20-50.
Sheeter Pitha, a significant heritage of rural Bangladesh being a signature of our countryside, has transitioned into the city lifestyle.
While nothing can match the first encounter with the taste of Bhapa in native home, these stalls and pithas sold there resonate the tradition of Bangla.
Bagerhat, Jan 9 (UNB) – A stream of joy goes through the farmers of the district after a long pause, as they witnessed a bumper production of Aman paddy this year exceeding all the pre-determined targets
Locals said the production rate is much higher this year as farmers planted high-yield variety of paddy over a larger portion of land.
As per the Department of Agriculture Extension, a total of 4.38 metric tonnes of paddy was produced per hectare which is much higher compared to the past 10 years.
The fragrance of ripened paddy has been floating around the Balaibunia, Ambaria, Kalikabari and Kichmatjamua villages of Morelganj upazila where some farmers are seen cutting rice, some taking piles of rice to their houses and some were spending busy times at the last-minute preparations.
Farmers said 20 to 22 maunds of high-yielding Aman paddy were produced in each bigha of land which provided Tk 15,000 profit excluding the production cost. The farmers are now much more interested in cultivating high-yielding Aman due to the high production.
Considering the local farmers, officials at the Department of Agricultural Extension suggested the government to procure paddy along with rice from the farmers.
Shah Alam Khan, a farmer of Kichmatjamua village said, “I’ve cultivated Aman in 12 bighas of land and harvested 25 maunds of paddy. I made a profit of Tk 20,000 per bigha cutting down the production cost.”
Shah Alam who had been cultivating rice for the past 30 years said he had never seen such bumper rice production in the past as he got after cultivating BRRI-67. He suggested spreading the seed of BRRI-67 across the country for bumper production.
Swapan Dhali, a 70-year-old farmer of Ambaria village, said, “Agriculture is our profession and family tradition. We cultivated Aman in 25 bighas of land, the production was much higher which had been absent in the last many years. Adequate care, good quality and lack of diseases contributed to the excessive production.”
Another farmer, Suresh Kumar Dhali, of same village collected the paddy at his house to preserve them and wished to sell them when the price of rice will hike.
Nagen Mandal of Ambaria village said, “I’m a farmer but I don’t have any land of my own. Every year, I cultivate five bighas of land by taking lease from others. This year approximately 90 maunds of rice have been produced in that land. Half the rice will go to the owner’s house and the rest will be sold to support my family.”
Tapan Das, Alamgir Hossain and Delwar Hossain, farmers of Balaibunia village, said this year at the advice of the Agriculture Department they cultivated different high-yielding varieties of rice.
Other farmers of Kaliabari village said the country will live well if the farmers are able to live well.
The farmers sought assistance of government to encourage more people in cultivation of paddy and active monitoring regarding the sale of produced rice and farmers’ profit.
Fourteen kinds of high-yielding varieties of rice, including draught, tide, salt and water stagnation resistant rice, have been cultivated in at least half the land in nine upazilas of Bagerhat this year. Among them, the farmers showed more interest in cultivating BRRI-67.
According to the Agriculture Department, rice was cultivated in a total of 1,40,596 hectares of land in the district. Among those, Aman rice was cultivated in 73,651 hectares of land. High-yielding variety of rice was cultivated in 35,686 hectares of land while local varieties in 37,965 hectares.
Some 4.38 metric tonnes of rice was produced per hectare this year while the target of production was 4.17 metric tonnes.
Agriculture officials said for sowing Aman rice, the work on seedbeds preparation begins on July 1 and the seeds are sowed from July 25. The harvesting begins on November 1 and continues till the second week of January which is a source of living for at least 2,44,970 families in the district.
Mejba Ahmed, Zakir Hossain and Mizanur Rahman, Deputy Assistants of Morelganj Agriculture Office, said they have been advising and encouraging the local farmers for using high-yielding paddy in their fields.
They hoped that the Aman production will be further amplified from the next year.
Deputy Director of Bagerhat Agricultural Extension Department Md Aftab Uddin said such huge Aman production was never seen in Bagerhat in the past 10 years.
Dhaka, Jan 9 (UNB) - At the onset of this winter, Kohinoor Begum visited the New Market here to buy a jacket for her granddaughter and found it hard to find one within her budget.
“We checked the local brands first but didn’t find anything likable within our budget,” she recalls.
Kohinoor Begum ended up buying a Chinese-made jacket at Tk 1,600. “The quality of our local product is not impressive,” she notes with a hint of disappointment. “We were looking for jackets costing between Tk 1,000 and Tk 2,000, but local goods weren’t good enough.”
She went on saying, “I’m disappointed that our local markets are dominated by foreign brands.”
Higher prices and lack of diversity of locally-produced winter clothes are encouraging many Bangladeshi customers to go for Chinese and Indian goods that are relatively cheaper and come with attractive designs.
Markets popular with shoppers from middle-class income group in Dhaka’s Bangabazar, Gulistan, Motijheel, New Market and Shantinagar were seen flooded with Chinese and Indian products.
Traders say they can hardly make any profit from local products.
At Dhaka’s Polwel Super Market, a hub of imported apparel business, Chinese jackets and sweaters are sold at Tk 1,500 to Tk 5,000. “They’re affordable and have good designs,” says Md Shaheedul Hasan Shaheed, owner of Golden Gallery.
Khadija Rahman, the chief designer of Aarong’s Taaga Man, says their target group is the middle class.
“Our T-shirts cost Tk 500-Tk 3,000 and jackets Tk 2,000-Tk 4,000. Production quantity is one of the reasons why our prices are higher. Another reason is that we try to produce better quality products than China and India,” she says.
Outmaneuvered by the Chinese, many local producers have started targeting the low- and lower-middle income customers.
Swapan Mia, proprietor of Fashion Way and AI Fashion House Limited, says they manufacture jackets and sweaters costing between Tk 300 to Tk 900 for the local market.
“It’s because we cannot compete with Chinese and Indian technologies,” he says.
Many local sellers are going with the tide. “We’re selling only foreign winter clothes,” says Mohammad Sirajul Islam, owner of Friendship Fashion at Bangabazar.
He says the use of modern machinery by Chinese factories ensures better finishing compared to Bangladeshi goods.
But, Sirajul says, local brands can still make a turnaround. “They’ve to come up with new items and designs or they risk losing more market shares,” he warns.
Sirajganj, Jan 8 (UNB) - Sirajganj, the home district of slain national leader and Bangabandhu’s close associate M Mansur Ali, always got either a minister or a state minister during every government since the country’s independence, but not this time.
For the first time after the country’s independence, the district has got no minister in the new cabinet.
Awami League President Sheikh Hasina on Monday took oath as Prime Minister of the country for the 4th term, including the 3rd consecutive one, along with her 46 cabinet members following her party Awami League’s massive victory in the 11th national election.
However, there is no representative of Sirajganj in the cabinet.
Sources at Awami League said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina picked her cabinet members this time mostly from the districts which did not have ministers in the past to strike a balance.
Meanwhile, the people of Sirajganj still hope that the Prime Minister will consider the matter positively and pick someone from the district for her cabinet.
Many expressed their frustration in their Facebook posts after seeing no minister and state minister from their district, the birthplace of M Mansur Ali.
They said since the country’s independence, every government used to pick a minister or state minister from the district with Mansur Ali’s son Mohammed Nasim serving as health and family welfare minister in the immediate past cabinet.
Mansur Ali had been made Communications Minister and later Prime Minister of the Bangabandhu government formed in 1972 while Abdul Momin Talukder, an MP from Belkuchi seat, served as a state minister of the government.
Dr MA Matin served as a minister during the tenure of BNP founder Ziaur Rahman and later he was made a minister and the deputy prime minister during the military rule of HM Ershad.
During the 1991-1996 BNP government, Ansar Ali Siddique of Chouhali was made a state minister.
Nasim was first made posts and telecommunications minister, then home and finally housing and public works minister during the Awami League government’s tenure from 1996 to 2001. Hasibur Rahman Swapan served as a deputy minister of the government.
The BNP government made Iqbal Hasan Mahmud Tuku state minister for power and energy during its 2001-2006 tenure.
Abdul Latif Biswas was inducted into the cabinet as the livestock and fisheries minister during the Hasina-led government formed through the December-29 election in 2008. At the same time, HT Imam was appointed as an adviser to the Prime Minister with the status of a minister.
After the January-5, 2014 election, Nasim was health and family welfare minister while HT Imam continued to serve as the PM’s adviser.
In the December-30, Awami League won all the six constituencies of the district by a big margin.
After the election, the people of the district had expected that either Mohammed Nasim or Dr Habibe Millat will find their place in the cabinet.
Khulna, Jan 7 (UNB) –The work on ‘Sheikh Russel Eco-Park’, a project taken by the district administration, is going on in full swing, aiming to fulfill the recreational need of the city dwellers and create a sanctuary for the wildlife to preserve the ecological balance of the region.
The work on the eco-park stretching over 43 acres of land started in November 2017 in the vicinity of the Rupsha River. Though the park is still far from being ready, many people have started visiting it to enjoy its beauty.
Visiting the park site, the UNB correspondent found a lake with well-decorated roads on both sides, a wooden bridge over the lake, floating restaurant colourful waterfall and a fish museum being constructed in the park which are expected to be new attractions for tourists.
Under the project, the fossils of different fish and animals will be preserved in the fish museum. Besides, a heritage museum will be set up to uphold the history of the Sundarbans, while a sanctuary will be created for the preservation of wildlife.
A map on the biodiversity of the Sundarbans, a Unesco world heritage site, will also be put on display in the park.
The eco-park is expected the meet the demand of nature lovers and entertainment seekers of the city which lacks adequate recreational facilities, said some visitors while talking to the UNB correspondent.
Once completed, the visitors will also be able to enjoy the beauty of the Rupsha River from the eco-park.
Taibur Tamim, a resident of Gollamari area of the city, said the existing parks in the city are unable to meet the need people’s desire to spend quality time as those lack adequate infrastructures.
A bridge over the Rupsha River and restrooms built on both sides and different plants of the Sundarbans planted in the area are attracting tourists well ahead of completion of the project.
Sources at the Water Development Board said they have taken a plan to build an embankment spending Tk 1.40 crore to turn the park into an attractive tourist spot.
Besides, the Forest Department has also taken a Tk 8.67 crore project for the lake and sight development, road construction and afforestation in the eco-park.
The district administration will also build a ‘Mangrove culture centre’ involving Tk 1 crore, said Deputy Commissioner of Khulna Helal Hossain adding that the project will be completed by 2021.