Arif Hossain is an Honours (Bangla) second-year student of Cumilla Ajitguh College. Arif's father Rakib Uddin is a farmer from Karpati village in Jodda union of Nangalkot upazila of Cumilla. Arif, being a farmer's son also wants to be a successful agricultural entrepreneur.
This year, Arif has planted Boro paddy on more than four acres of land in the village crop field. One acre of which is black rice. He has also cultivated purple on one bigha of land and red rice on one bigha of land.
Meanwhile, Arif's black, red and purple paddy has started to ripen. The whole upazila has responded to this paddy cultivation of student Arif. The Upazila Agriculture Department says that student Arif is the first person to cultivate black, red, and purple paddy in Nangalkot Upazila.
Arif is now dreaming of surpassing his father by cultivating these exceptional black, red, and purple paddy. "My father is an ideal farmer, and I want to be a successful agricultural entrepreneur," Arif said. Arif is working towards this goal.
According to student Arif, "Last year our family, like the rest of the world, was devastated by the coronavirus. We are a joint family, parents live at village home. Our uncle lives abroad. With the help of my uncle, my sister and I live in Cumilla, we both study. We moved to the village because of a problem of uncle's job in Corona. I concentrated on farming with my father and managing the cattle farm. But we were not seeing the face of profit".
"Meanwhile, one of my cousins sent me a picture and video of Black Rice from London. He said, "Find out where this rice is found." I did a lot of searching but couldn't find it. Then when the situation in Corona became somewhat normal, I moved to Cumilla again".
Student Arif further said that "In August last year, I saw that Kazi Apoun Tivrani, a lecturer in the English department at Cumilla Victoria Government College, had launched an online small business called the Victoria E-Commerce Forum. I joined it and saw the students working on something. I then contacted mom. I told mom- I will be an entrepreneur. Ma'am gave me courage. I said, ma'am, let me collect the seeds of black rice. My father is a farmer, so I want to be an agricultural entrepreneur. He then spoke to various agricultural officials and they gave me their addresses. Then I collected seeds and started farming".
"At present, we have cultivated Boro paddy on more than four acres of agricultural land. One acre of which is Black Rice. I have cultivated purple on one bigha of land and red rice on one bigha of land. The rest are Hira-19, Hira-2, Moyna, Miniket, Binni rice etc. I have been financially supported by relatives, friends, and members of the Victoria E-Commerce Forum. My father and I took care of paddy cultivation", he added.
Arif further said, "In the meantime I started collecting black and red rice from different parts of the country and selling it online. As well as selling pure mustard oil, red sugar and some safe food. Through all this, I am very much self-dependent now. In a few days, I will be able to sell my own produced black, red, and purple rice. These rice are very beneficial for the human body. My dream is to deliver these rice to the people at low cost".
"I want to become an agricultural entrepreneur and do research on agriculture," Arif said of his future plans. Black Rice is beneficial for more than 20 diseases, including diabetes and cancer. I want these rice to reach people at a limited price. I want to create interest in agriculture among the youth. I would request the officials of the Department of Agriculture to stand by the young agri-entrepreneurs", he added.
Matin Saikot, environment and agriculture organiser of Cumilla, said, "I am very happy to see young students working in agriculture. The new generation wants to be entrepreneurs in agriculture today, this is good news for us. Black rice contains vitamins, fiber and minerals. There is a huge demand for this rice in the country and abroad due to its various beneficial qualities. Our agriculture department should stand by the entrepreneurs in the production of these black, red and purple rice.
Nangalkot Upazila Agriculture Officer Zahidul Islam said, "Student Arif started cultivating these paddy without contacting us." Later we got the news and kept in touch with him regularly. Our officers are regularly inspecting his lands. Arif has cultivated these paddy for the first time in the upazila. The Department of Agriculture will assist him in any need, he said.