Photo: Prabir Das
A popular name in the field of agriculture, Rezaul Karim Siddique has been researching on how to develop cultivation and growth of crops in Bangladesh for more than three decades. Not only does he work for the betterment of agriculture, he also works towards the development of farmers and organic farming.
In 1983, Siddique launched the popular show 'Mati o Manush' on BTV. Later on, Arte TV (a German-French organisation) prepared a documentary on the show for their regular broadcast. 10 years later, he won the Ashoka Fellowship from Ashoka Innovators for the public, USA. Siddique had also won a special award from Bangladesh Agriculture University for the expansion of fruit orchards. In 2009, Siddique won the Atish Dipankar Gold Medal. "I have also organised several workshops and training programmes to promote agribusiness," he adds. "More than several hundred entrepreneurs have started their business with my help."
Siddique has many stories to share. Working in the field of agriculture has exposed him to people from all walks of life. He shares a story about a village where thousands of women had become entrepreneurs through seed production. "I also remember the owner of a small piece of land who had begun flower cultivation in Savar," he says. "It was very important for us because my team and I encourage organic agriculture and the use of good seeds. We have promoted BAU-Kul, orchard, roof top gardening and also IPM, Safe food production etc, through our programme. We are also trying to create a bridge between the farmer and the scientist by bringing technology to the farm and putting it to good use."
At the age of 8, Siddique, along with his family, left his hometown, Sirajganj, and moved to Dhaka for studies. "As a student, I was involved in scouting, cultural activities, social work etc. I used to debate for my college and would participate in national debate competitions." Siddique was also a journalist. In 1982 Producer Alimuzzaman had recruited him as an anchor for ‘Amar Desh’. "He had selected me after watching me debate," he says.
For Rezaul Karim Siddique, farmers are the real heroes of Bangladesh. "They work during all seasons, rain or shine," he says. "But they are not getting the attention, appreciation or the respect from society that they deserve. In our country we are using them for our own purpose, we are selling them for our own benefit, we are exploiting their emotions for personal reasons, but we do not give back the respect and trust that they deserve."
Without these real heroes, our dreams of prosperity will never become reality, he adds.