Abdul Hai Azad, a researcher of plants, environment and agriculture, recently invented three new machines to benefit thousands of people.
He has been designing and building new machines keeping up with the haste of the digital era. Already, the inventor has designed 40 new machines and supplied them to the market. His inventions are being utilised by numerous people in Sylhet and other districts.
This year, he made three machines.
One of them is a cheap electricity-run machine capable of removing corn kernel from the cob. It can thresh 30 kg cob every hour. The second one is a dustbin that does not spread odour and can be used for shifting wastages.
The third machine can separate dust from the fibrous husk or mesocarp of coconuts. It runs on electricity and is cheap. The machine is capable of threshing 40 kg mesocarp per hour.
If used properly, the machines can benefit farmers, traders and the general people alike, inventor Abdul Hai Azad said.
“I’ve worked very hard to design and make the machines. It gives me great pleasure when I see my machines bringing smiles to the faces of people. I feel honoured for being able to participate in the development of the country,” he said.
In 2005, Babla received the National Agriculture Padak as recognition of his research. Ten years later, he received an award from the a2i project of Prime Minister’s Office and in 2017, he got the Bangabandhu National Agriculture Padak.
He received the two awards from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Another of his machines, intended for accumulating waste and mud from drains, is currently being tested. “I urge the people to make use of my inventions and thus inspire me to work hard to come up with new inventions,” he said.
Cyclone ‘Bulbul’ dealt a heavy blow to the dreams of hundreds of tomato growers in the coastal district as farmers now stare at bleak future scratching their heads to find ways to repay loans.
The situation on the ground was devastating in Charbaniari, Paschimpara, Krishnanagar, Bawalipara, Dakkhinpara, Santoshpur, Kharamkhali, Umajuri and Dakatia areas of Chitalmari upazila.
The green, frail branches of tomato plants have become pale and dried up.
“I don’t know how I’ll repay my loans,” said a frustrated Chittaranjan Basu of Krishnanagar village in Chitalmari, who cultivated tomato on 25 bighas land spending over Tk 2 lakh.
Bablu Basu, another tomato grower of Charbaniari area, said he cultivated tomato on 13 bighas land spending over Tk 1 lakh.
“All the plants have been killed by cyclone ‘Bulbul’. I could’ve earned Tk 6 to 7 lakh but now my only headache is to repay the loan I took for cultivation,” Bablu said.
Farmers said agriculture officials are yet to visit the area.
They cultivated different varieties of hybrid tomato like Lovely, Beauty-1, 2, Panpata, Haitom, Beautiful and Bipul Glass, among others.
Tomatoes are usually harvested after 60 to 70 days of planting. The crop can be harvested for three months continuously.
Chitalmari farmers said they cultivated tomato by taking loans because of its high profit margin but their hardships went in vein.
Ashim Kumar Das, officer of Chitalmari Upazila Department of Agricultural Extension, said over 16,000 farmers cultivated eight varieties of tomatoes on over 4,350 hectares land in the upazila this year.
Last year, 22,780mts tomato were produced on 1,655 hectares in the upazila, he added.
Ashim said they wrote to higher officials to arrange compensation for the farmers. Meanwhile, DAE has allotted Tk 6 lakh for the affected farmers in the upazila.
Raghunath Kor, deputy director of Chitalmari DAE, said tomatoes on 900 bighas among 9,000 Bighas were damaged in Chitalmari, Kachua and Fakirhat upazilas because of cyclone ‘Bulbul’.
The farmers were advised to put clay at the roots of tomato plants with some green leaves that were damaged during the cyclone, he added.
Kor said they received donation to compensate the affected farmers from the concerned Upazila Parishads.
Meanwhile, Agriculture Minister Abdur Razzaque on November 12 said ‘Bulbul’ damaged Aman paddy and winter vegetables in 103 upazilas of 16 coastal districts.
“Crops on 289,006 hectares were damaged, which accounts for 14 percent of the country’s total farmland,” he added.
The ministry will adopt a rehabilitation programme in the affected areas shortly, after receiving allocation from the Finance Ministry, he added.
Cumilla Zoo and Botanical Garden, which was established to provide recreational facilities to the residents of the district away from the monogamy of everyday life, is now in an very poor shape, thanks to its mismanagement.
The recreational establishment is losing visitors day by day due to the awful condition, forcing the lessee to count losses.
The number of population in the district is over 65 lakh. There are a few recreational centres or parks in the district for their entertainment. Of them, Cumilla Zoo and Botanical Garden located at the DC Bangla Road is one of them. It was established on 10.15 acres of land in 1986.
During a visit, it was found that there is no animal in most of the cages at the zoo while there were heaps of garbage at the botanical garden. Besides, waterlogging inside the establishment remains all the year round.
Although there are cages in the zoo, most of them are either abandoned or empty. And the botanical garden has turned into a water reservoir as perennial waterlogging remains throughout the year.
Garbage is being dumped in front of the zoo entrance and there is no mentionable plant in the botanical garden. All the roads inside are full of potholes and waterlogged.
Besides, there is no recreational arrangement, including any ride, for children.
As a result, the number of its visitors is declining day by day as they find it wastage of time and money. Only a handful of visitors are seen going to the recreational centre.
Anis Ahmed, the leaseholder of Zoo and Botanical Garden, said they are counting losses every year due to its poor condition.
The number of visitors will rise significantly if animals of different species are brought for the zoo and trees are planted at the botanical garden after filling the low-lying portions with soil, he said.
Chief Executive of Zilla Parishad Md Helal Uddin said a project will be taken soon to renovate the recreational establishment to attract more visitors.
The price of onion saw a significant fall by Tk 40-60 per kg at the wholesale market while by Tk 10-20 at the retail market on Tuesday with many traders still passing idle time for lack of buyers.
The essential cooking ingredient was selling at Tk 100-130 a kg against Monday’s Tk 160-170 at the wholesale market and at Tk 160-190 at the retail market.
Traders said the onion price might keep falling till Friday and reach a stable level on Saturday.
Biswajit Paul, a stockist at Shyambazar, told UNB that the onion price saw a significant fall at the wholesale market. “A syndicate of importers jacked up the onion price that shot up to as high as Tk 260 per kg in the retail market this year. They created an artificial crisis to get extra profit. Now it has fallen significantly,” he said.
He said they were passing idle time for lack of customers as the retailers do not buy onion fearing loss.
Biswajit also said they were selling the Burmese variety of onion at Tk 100-120 a kg which was Tk 160-170 on Monday. “We don’t have to count any loss as we take a 30-paisa commission per kg only. But some small traders who bought onion earlier at a high price are now counting losses.”
Manik Saha, a wholesaler at the market, said they were selling rotten onion for Tk 30 a kg while half-rotten one for Tk 50 and better quality one for Tk 130.
Another stockist at Shyambazar, Almas Hossain, said their wholesaler Ayub Ali bought locally-grown onion at Tk 220 per kg from farmers of his village in Faridpur several days ago but he has to sell those at Tk 150 now for lack of customers.
Abdus Salam, a wholesaler at Karwan Bazar, told UNB that he was selling Egyptian variety of onion at Tk 110-120 per kg and the Burmese one at Tk 150-160 on Tuesday. However, no one came to his shop to buy onion till 4pm.
Hridoy, another wholesaler at the market, said he usually sells 100-120 sacks of onion every day.
But he sold only 10-12 sacks of onion on average when the price started falling since Friday last. The sale in the last three days was almost zero, he added.
Anwar Hossain, an onion supplier of super shop Shwapno, said the trend of the price fall might continue till Friday and the price will come under control from the next week.
Billal Hossain, another wholesaler of the same market, said he has been selling local onion at Tk 155 while Egyptian one at Tk 120.
He, however, said the presence of buyers was very thin.
Jamsed Mia, a resident of Rampura, said he bought one kg onion for Tk 160 on Tuesday.
Farzana Begum of Old Dhaka said they were upset to see the onion price hike this year. “We’ve cut the consumption of onion due to the unusual price hike. However, it’s good news that the price started to fall. We, the general public, have to suffer if any essential’s price is increased abnormally,” she said.
The price of onion, a common ingredient in Bangladeshi kitchens, started soaring in the country after India announced banned its export on September 29 last.
The price reached as high as Tk 260 per kg in the retail market on Saturday before marking a fall on Sunday.
The onion price remained unchanged in the wholesale markets on November 16 after the government on November 15 said onions were being flown in from Turkey, Egypt, Afghanistan and the UAE on an emergency basis at the initiative of the Commerce Ministry to keep the local market stable.
The onion price started falling on Sunday after the Prime Minister on Saturday said the government took initiatives to import onion through cargo planes to bring down the price and the local variety started arriving in the market.
Social media now have turned out to be a means of spreading rumours to manipulate markets by unscrupulous businesspeople to make quick buck by fooling people and this menace has to be tackled through dissemination of authentic information fast, said experts.
As a rumour sent city dwellers on panic buying of salt on Tuesday, they said authentic information need be disseminated instantly through the mainstream media alongside taking prompt actions against wrongdoers to check rumours that destabilise markets.
As the rumour of salt crisis spread like flame, people across the country, especially the capital, were seen thronging grocery stores to buy the item in fear of facing any onion-like crisis.
Contacted, Dhaka University’s former VC and media expert Prof AAMS Arefin Siddique said the salt price was increased artificially based on a rumour. “There’s no genuine reason for the hike in salt price since the country has enough stock of it. So, both the rumour and those who spread it must be prevented by enforcing law.”
“When there’s a lack of authentic information, people believe rumours. So, the government should urgently disseminate the right information whenever any rumour is spread. In the case of salt, the government came up with accurate information quickly. That’s good.”
But, Dr Arefin said, people will believe the right formation about the salt when they will see its impact on the market. “The government is saying there’s no crisis of salt, but people are not getting it at shops. So, how people will believe the government if it can’t ensure proper supply of the item in the market. The availability of salt must be ensured. ”
He said there is a serious weakness in the government’s market monitoring system. “The government must actively monitor the market and remove wrong information about the prices and stocks of goods and essentials.”
Stating that manipulating the market and increasing the prices of essentials by creating an artificial crisis is a serious crime, he regretted that the government could not properly identify the illegal onion hoarders and those increased its price unusually. “Had the onion market manipulators been punished, the similar problem over salt wouldn’t have created.”
MM Akash, a professor of Dhaka University Economics department, said, “As we’re now living in the age of ICT, any information is now spreading like flame, and social media platforms are playing the main role in it.”
He said a system should be there to control rumour and misinformation on the social media.
Prof Akash said now rumour and false information are being used to manipulate the market and increase the prices of particular essential commodities like onion, rice and salt. “People need to be aware of false information and they shouldn’t believe anything without verification.”
He said some unscrupulous businessmen sometimes indulge in ‘speculative trade’ spreading rumours. “In economics, we call it moral hazard. The dishonest businessmen get such a scope to manipulate the market due to information asymmetry or lack of equal knowledge on any issue or matter.”
“So, we must remove the information asymmetry to check such market manipulation by instantly giving people the right information through all the forms of mainstream media. Whenever wrong information are disseminated by any vested quarter, the government will have to give people the right information instantly through radio and television channels, and social media platforms. We must fight against the false with truth.”
Besides, he said, those who spread rumours and false information must be tracked down and given exemplary punishment to prevent such foul play with common people.
However, the government urged all not to get confused with misleading information over salt stock and price being spread by an unscrupulous group saying the current salt reserve is much more than the country needs.
“There’s no shortage of salt. At present, the salt stock in the country is much higher than the demand,” said Chairman of Bangladesh Small & Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) Md Mostaque Hassan.
He said an unholy syndicate is trying to reap benefits by spreading misleading information through online media. “The people of the country are requested not to get confused.”
In Dhaka, although grocery wholesale market in Karwan Bazar remained closed on Tuesday, a good number of general customers were seen around the market to buy salt.
Visiting different city areas including Malibagh, Shantinagar, Jatrabari, Rampura and Hatirpool areas, it was seen the grocery stores were overcrowded with salt buyers, creating an artificial high demand of the item.
Taking advantage of the evolving situation, many retailers were selling salt at 80-100 per kg.
According to reports reaching the UNB desk from across the country, the salt price went up to Tk 200 at many places as people were flocking to shops to by the item.
Meanwhile, the mobile courts in different districts, including Sylhet, Natore, Bogura, Munshiganj and Thakurgaon, fined many shopkeepers for selling slat at a higher price.