Dhankurani’s Indurdhan: A farmer-friendly tradition that helps ultra poor
Can you earn your living from ratholes? A "Dhankurani" can.
Dhankuranis, mostly women and children, are from the ultra poor in rural Bangladesh.
Equipped with spades, spatulas and baskets, they look out for ratholes in vast croplands during the Aman harvesting season.
They dig up these holes and collect paddy from there. This paddy is called "Indurdhan".
A Dhankurani can collect between five to eight kilogrammes of paddy from each rathole. Every season, each of them collects around three to four maunds of paddy by digging between 25 to 30 ratholes in 10 to 12 days.
They say this collected paddy is a big help in their struggle for survival.
"I collect more than four maunds of paddy every year. With this, I can meet two months' demand of rice for my family," Saleha Bewa, 58, of Falimari village in Lalmonirhat's Aditmari upazila, who is landless, told The Daily Star.
But the practice is a risky business too.
Another Dhankurani, Bachcha Rani, 50, of Uttar Saptana village in Lalmonirhat Sadar, said sometimes, while digging, snakes come out of the ratholes.
Indurdhan is collected from morning till afternoon, she said, adding that it takes around two to three hours to dig a rathole and collect paddy.
Dhankurani Halima Begum, 45, of Baidder Bazar area of Kurigram's Rajarhat Upazila, said her two daughters help her in digging ratholes.
Last year, she got nine maunds of paddy, she added.
Meanwhile, farmers too are happy for the Dhankuranis as their digging makes rats flee their croplands.
Naresh Chandra Barman, 65, a farmer of Baidder Bazar, said rats are their biggest enemies. Rats steal ripen paddy and store it in the ratholes. But they also destroy corps manifold than it consume.
Hamidur Rahman, deputy director of the Department of Agriculture Extension in Lalmonirhat, said the collection of Indurdhan has been a tradition for many years in rural areas.
He said that many landless families get their own food stock during the Aman season because of this Indurdhan.