Rice is rooted in the very essence of Bangladeshi culture. Fish and rice make a Bangali, so the saying goes. But bizarre weather patterns, increased cost of fuel and fertiliser coupled with the pressures of a rising population mean farmers have to constantly adapt. Hari dhaan is a high-yielding variety of rice that offers hope to the food-insecure districts of the north. Haripada Kapali, the inventor of Hari dhaan, epitomizes the ever-resilient Bangladeshi farmer.
Haripada Kapali, inventor of special kind of paddy called Haridhan, passed away in his residence at Ahsannagar village of Jhenidah Sadar upazila on 6 july 2017.
He was 96. Family sources said the agrarian farmer who was suffering from old age complications breathed his last around 1:15am.
Haripada, the farmer of the village, does not have any academic degree but his experience and success in agriculture was laudable.
The Daily star took his interview few years ago. Here we republished that article
Haripada Kapali, the only son of a poor farmer, lost his father at the age of 8. Instead of going to school, he was burdened with the responsibility of running a family. Since then he has been working as a farmer. He is now 75 years old. Being almost illiterate, he produces good crops using his intelligence only. He has a good reputation in the locality for his skill in growing all kinds of crops. Even at the fag end of his life he has invented a super quality paddy with the help of his instinctive knack for farming. This special kind of paddy is known as Haridhan in Jhenidah.
Haridhan has been grown sufficiently in the last 7 consecutive seasons. 4 thousand hectors land from only 4 Satak have been brought under Haridhan cultivation. During the current season, all the lands of Jhenidah district have been filled with Haridhan. The Agricultural department of the Government after examining the paddy has declared Haridhan a profitable cultivation. It costs little to cultivate it. Moreover, compared to the profuse growth of it, the expenditure for its cultivation seems to be very little. The farmers are getting bumper crop from cultivating Haridhan. They get 18 to 20 maunds paddy per bigha. This year, too, they expect to have bumper production. On 20 October, 2006, I went to pay a short visit to Haripada Kapali at his home in Ashan Nagar to find out about him and the paddy he invented, how he was doing, how much the cultivation of Haridhan was spreading, how much it would grow this year etc.
Taking a long time Haripada narrated the past and present experiences of his farmer’s life. At one point he got a little emotional and said, “If the Government recognises my contribution as you and the press have done with regard to my invention, one day this Haridhan will spread all over the country and I will live in the midst of Haridhan.”
How Haripada Passes his days
On Friday morning, when I reached Haripada Kapali’s house, Haripada had already set out for field with breakfast for his sister-in-law’s son, Rupkumar. Haripada was very happy when I introduced myself. He took me to his house and gave me a chair to sit on. Then he started to narrate his present farming life. Haripada Kapali possesses eight cows. Getting up from bed in the morning, he takes care of his cattle first. Then after breakfast he mows the grass for his cattle. Meanwhile, Rupkumar goes to the field with his plough and cattle. Haripada takes breakfast for him to the field. While speaking thus, I proposed to go out to have a sight of his invented paddy known as “Haridhan”. He agreed to my proposal and we went to the field. Actually it was a bumper production of Haridhan. It grew in far more abundance than any other paddy. While walking on the narrow raised path in between plots of cultivated lands (ail) we saw some farmer busy working in the fields. They cried out happily to me, “Look, Bhai! Haridhan has got its bumper production this year.” I took some snaps of the paddy fields. I asked Haripada to tell me about his boyhood and how he discovered the Haridhan.
He took me to the bullock cart and once we settled ourselves on it started to talk.
Haripada Kapali’s boyhood
Haripada Kapali comes of a poor family of Enayetpur village in Jhenidah Sadar. He is the only son of Ishwar Kundu. His father died when Hari was eight years old. His father left behind 5 bighas of land but his uncles misappropriated 3 bighas of land playing tricks on him who was just a child at that time. He started cultivation on the remaining two bighas of land immediately in order to maintain his family. Meanwhile, he finished his elementary education. Haripada recalled that crops did not grow well in those days. They had to pass their days through great hardship. When he was seventeen or eighteen years old, he married Sunita Rani, daughter of Raban Biswas of the same Upazila where at present he lives. As Raban Biswas had no son he got his daughter married off to Haripada on condition that he would lodge in his father-in-law’s house. After his marriage, Hari along with his mother settled down in his father-in-law’s house in Ashan Nagar. He turned over a new leaf here. He involved himself whole-heartedly in farming on lands some of which he inherited from his father-in-law and some he bought.
He kept himself busy in agricultural work round the clock. Haripada has no offspring. Neither has he any brother or sister. So he has raised his sister-in-law’s son Rupkumar as his own son. Rupkumar is the son of Azit kumar of Shailmari village in the same Upazila. Rupkumar along with his wife Sushama Rani, their daughters, Toma 8 and Anamika 5, live with Haripada in his house. Rupkumar now looks after the farm work of Haripada.
How Haridhan was invented
Haripada Kapali told us the story of how he discovered Haridhan and started producing it. About seven or eight years ago, while weeding out a plot of B.R-11 paddy one day, he came across a bunch of paddy which was different from the other paddy. This bunch of paddy was more beautiful to look at and taller, too. He took special care of it and facilitated its growth in a natural way. At first he thought this would not yield good crops. But finally, this separate paddy gave better production than the already planted ones. This new kind of paddy plants was stout and taller. Haripada collected this paddy separately and stored it in a safe place. Next year he made separate seeds, beds and sowed this 2/3gram seeds in another plot. He took care of both the paddy equally. At last, after harvesting he estimated that Haridhan grew more abundantly in comparison with the planted ones. He preserved all the seeds and planted 16 satak land with these seeds the next year.
Haripada informed us that when the paddy grew on the sixteen Satak land, the nearby villagers rushed to see the profuse yield of crops with their own eyes. People became highly pleased to see the bumper production of Haridhan, the new paddy they named after Haripada. Later, villagers from all the neighbouring places assembled in Haripada’s house to collect the seeds. Haripada said that many of them were dissatisfied, as he couldn’t provide them with the seeds. Thus haridhan is being cultivated in this locality for the last seven or eight years.
Farmer Sukur Ali of Ashan Nagar village says that out of 10 bighas of paddy that he has planted this year, 5 bighas are Haridhan. It costs less to grow than what it does for the other paddy, but yields more crops. He has harvested 12/13 maunds Swarna paddy per bigha, whereas, he has collected 18/20 maund Haridhan per bigha. Adhir Kumar of the same village informs that he has two bighas of land that have been brought under Haridhan cultivation. He adds by saying that those who cultivated other paddy have sustained a loss. On the other hand, they have got bumper production planting Haridhan. Siddikur Rahman, a school teacher of Hazra village, says that insects hardly attack Haridhan for which there is little loss of crops. Bablu Biswas of Bangkira planted 3 bighas of Haridhan this year. He had sustained loss planting other paddy. Gobinda Lal of Ashan Nagar village opines that Haridhan plants are tall and stout for which its hay is sold at a high rate. He says, “We do not understand any class or kind. As it grows well, we have planted it this year and will do the same next year as well.”
The cultivation of Haridhan has spread to nearby Vhutlay, Bangkira, Nabi Nagar, Hazra, Jadabpur, Shahpur, Boalia, Kumradanga and Fakirdanga of Chuadanga district including other nearby villages.
Haripada Kapali says that he wants to Haridhan be spread all over the country. Besides, he needs a power tiller for better cultivation. He could not buy a power tiller for want of money. He said, he has nearly reached the end of his life and he will live the remaining days doing agricultural works. His wife Sumita Devi says that at first she was angry with her husband while he took care of a bunch of unknown paddy. “But I have never thought that only this bunch of paddy will familiarize my husband to the countrymen. Now he is being invited to and greeted by different organizations.”