Today marks the 65th birthday of eminent media personality Shykh Seraj, a true friend of, and an active campaigner for, our farmers. For over four decades, he has been sponsoring television programmes for them. A pioneer of development journalism, Shykh Seraj hosts TV shows such as Mati O Manush, Krishi Budget Krishoker Budget, Phirey Chol Matir Taan-e and Krishoker Eid Ananda on Channel i. Currently, he is the Director and Head of News of Channel i.
“There is a close link between Krishi (agriculture) and Krishti (culture). Farmers are the backbone of our economy. Doing something for them has, over the years, become my passion and profession. There is no culture without agriculture,” said Shykh Seraj in a conversation with The Daily Star. “A farmer faces many problems. His journey of farming, from sowing seeds to harvesting is uncertain, yet he keeps a smile on his face, which I find immensely charming.”
Today, many developed countries have initiated rooftop agriculture, producing herbs that are nutritious, but expensive. “The urban agriculture will ensure food security and greenery, prioritise healthy food and fight global warming. The 1995 Kyoto Protocol has also emphasised on making at least 20 percent of the rooftop green,” he explains. “A good sign is that many educated farmers are involved in it.”
Shykh Seraj thinks that agriculture in Bangladesh has already gone through many notable changes, and with the aid of ICT, a revolutionary change will take place in all sectors of agriculture including livestock, fishery, poultry, dairy and horticulture. Latest technology, like Neck Pad or Cattle Shield, Bolas, Recirculating Aquaculture System (RAS), Auto Aeration and Feeding for Fishes, Good Agricultural Practice (GAP), Horizontal Expansion, Vertical Expansion, Soilless Agriculture, Drip Irrigation System and mobile app-based agriculture, are all gaining momentum. Our farmers are becoming familiar with these technological practices, which ascertain precision in agriculture.
He also mentions that even though technology has made agriculture easier, the fact that many entrepreneurs with no prior experience are investing in it, might be alarming for our farmers. The farmers’ lack of knowledge and investment would mean that they are in danger of being marginalised. If these farmers do not exist, Bangladesh will face immense challenges in the food industry.
“The government should take pro-farmer initiatives, so that they don’t become landless. Instead of selling the land, they can lease it or make farmers the stakeholders for agro-projects,” said Shykh Seraj.
For his philanthropic activities, Shykh Seraj has received more than fifty awards. The Ashoka Fellow, United Nations FAO’s AH Boerma Award, Gusi Peace Prize from Philippines, Bangladesh Economic Association Gold Medal, UK’s BCA Golden Jubilee Honour Award, prestigious recognition from the British House of Commons, Dr Ibrahim Memorial Gold Medal, Ranada Prasad Saha Gold Medal, Ekushey Padak and Independence Day Award are only a few of his accolades.