• Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Shykh Seraj calls for fair prices for farmers

TV show Hridoye Mati O Manush enters 11th year today

Star Business Report
Shykh Seraj
Shykh Seraj

If innovations in agricultural communications mean something for recent developments in Bangladesh's farm sector, one particular programme for farm broadcasting has its good part here.
That is Hridoye Mati O Manush.
Over the last one decade, Channel i, a first generation satellite TV station, ran this weekly show transmitting valuable farm knowledge and best practices among hundreds of thousands of viewers that include the most vital target audience -- the farmers of rural Bangladesh.  
The popular show steps into 11th year today after a successful run of 488 episodes.
The host of the show, Shykh Seraj, who is also the director (news) of Channel i, talked to The Daily Star yesterday.
Seraj thinks they have done their part in educating farmers on new technologies, making them aware of the importance of soil fertility and balancing the use of chemical and non-chemical fertilisers.
Besides, innovations such as a participatory budget-making exercise styled Krishi Budget Krishoker Budget (farmers' voice in the national budget) have had a huge impact on policymaking and helped influence resource-allocation decisions in the sector, he says.
Seraj, also the planner of the show, says he has got more innovative things up in his sleeve. These include an agro quiz for farmers, a reality show on agro-entrepreneurship and creating platforms for brilliant young minds to help them develop more mobile apps for farmers.

He says, in the coming days his show would take up the issue of maintaining Bangladesh's degrading land fertility as an important agenda. "We must promote biocompost and vermicompost; excessive use of chemical fertilisers would not do."
Seraj, winner of prestigious Ekushey Padak and UN Food and Agriculture Organisation's AH Boerma Award, now plans to reach out to more farmers and their causes through the TV show.  He had also presented another programme, Mati O Manush, on agriculture in the state-run Bangladesh Television since 1982.
“When we launched Hridoye Mati O Manush on February 21, 2004, the context was very different from that in the 1980s. We took up issues like marketing of farm produces, farmers' empowerment, and linking the urban youths to agriculture,” Seraj says.
He made and telecast programmes on farmers' Eid, dialogue with policymakers and researchers, familiarising farming with the urban and educated youths, and introduced Channel i Agriculture Award.
Though the farm sector has drawn substantial attention in the past few years, farmers' failure to get fair prices remains a major concern, Seraj says.
“This is because middlemen at different levels eat up the major share of their profits. Also, we do not have adequate storage facilities for vegetable growers,” he says.
Seraj calls for setting up a 'price commission' for farmers and building storages across the country through the engagement of both public and private sectors. In a bid to assist farmers in offsetting the impacts of climate change, he would help speed up farm extension work through the TV show.
Another concern of Seraj is a lack of coordination among different stakeholders within the government in mitigating farmers' woes.
About the recent supply glut of potato and its falling prices, he says, "We don't see much coordination among relevant ministries and departments to arrest the slide in prices."

Published: 12:00 am Friday, February 21, 2014

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