Saturday, 27 November, 2021
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Planting Taal Seeds to Save Life from Lightning

Dr. Md. Amin Uddin Mridha

Planting Taal Seeds to Save Life from Lightning
Dr. Md. Amin Uddin Mridha

The ripened taal fruits are available now throughout the country for the preparation of different types of delicious foods with taal goola. Most of the people of the rural areas and a part of the urban areas are using ripened taal fruits. After having taal goola, either the seeds are throwing in the dust bean or keeping them for saas. These taal seeds or aati may be kept for growing seedlings easily in the homestead and the seedlings growing may be used for plantation in the homestead and/or fields.  The whole procedure may be performed by the students of all levels, teachers, and employees of the educational institutes. The local govt. authorities, grass roots level political workers, Mosque Imam may also participate in the program. The taal seedlings growing may be used for plantation in the homestead and also in the fields to protect the farmers from lightning and also from the adverse effect of climate change. 

Under the present innovative concept "Student Agriculture - One Student One Integrated Agriculture Farm" that is accepted by the ministry of education for implementation in all the educational institutes in the country through a well-planned project proposal by the Directorate of Secondary & Higher Education of the ministry of education is underway. A part of the concept to grow taal plants to protect from lightning and climate change mitigation mentioned in the innovation is extended here to grow taal seedlings in each and every student of all levels, especially students from the rural areas in their homestead. The proposed idea is to instruct the students by the educational institutes especially in the rural areas to keep at least two seeds to grow seedlings and nurse them in their houses. Another easy way institutes may raise seedlings of taal trees is by collecting excess seeds through the students, employees, and teachers and plant them in the premises of the institutes and give them a proper environment to grow seedlings.  It will be a cost-effective program, does not need any money, only needs a proper directive from the institutes. The teachers may also formulate some sort of mechanism to follow up the program. For example, teachers may allocate a mark for the students for growing taal seedlings in their homesteads or an assignment may be given or any other suitable mechanisms may be formulated by the teachers.

Taal tree planting can be done jointly with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Agriculture with the cooperation and guidance of all types of educational institutions. In this case, the Ministry of Education will have a leading role in advising the educational institutions of the country. Initially, students receiving scholarships from the government will be advised to plant taal trees. Then other students will be employed in the same program. This innovative program may involve local governments and private authorities and agencies related to agriculture and education.If we can plant one or two taal trees in every house of millions of families in Bangladesh, we will get millions of taal trees. On the other hand, student participation will work to protect farmers from lightning and mitigate climate change by planting taal trees in rural areas.

Now many organizations are planting taal trees along the roadsides, but lightning is affecting our farmers in the open field. In our innovative program, not only the students will be planting at least two seeds in their houses but also, advocate for the students to plant the seedlings of taal trees directly in the non-flooded cultivated lands. Our students and their family members will help us in this regard. We will plant seedlings directly in high lands cultivated soils and we will also plant seedlings in the soil aggregated at the corner of the cultivated lands in the flood-prone areas. So that the seedlings survive in the flood season. The plantation of taal trees under field condition with the participation of students and their parents will help us to get taal trees in our cultivated lands to protect our farmers from the lightening. Recently, the death rate from lightning has increased rapidly. We have to take immediate measures to grow taal trees in the cultivated lands to protect our farmers working in the open fields from lightning and also to mitigate climate change situation.

Our original innovation is ‘Student Agriculture or One Student One Integrated Agriculture Farm". This is a great innovative concept and integrated method for popularizing agriculture (including crops, poultry and dairy, fisheries and forestry) at the doorsteps of the common people in most rural and urban areas. The program will be implemented through the participation of students of public and private educational institutions. Basically, students of schools, colleges, madrasasand universities can implement this program through the initiatives and instructions of the relevant ministries and the concerned government authorities. In collaboration with the authorities of the educational institution can implement the proposed innovation in the backyard of each student.Under this concept, in addition to different types of agriculture, we have mentioned the issue of planting taal trees in every house by students of every level. We have not proposed any expenditure from the government for the proposed program. Initially, small expenses can be borne by educational institutions.

  Several species of palms are found in Bangladesh and it is a very slow-growing plant and can live one hundred to one hundred and fifty years. Taal trees are propagated by seed. The taal tree has a stout, straight, un-branched cylindrical trunk and a crown of large leaves at the top. Common names: Taal, Asian Taalyra Taal, Toddy Taal etc. The tree can reach a height of twenty-five to thirty meters. The trunk can be across one meter. It's original home in South and Southeast Asia. It is found in rural Bangladesh, by ponds and by roads. The inflorescence is large with many flowers, arranged in a closed spiral on the axis. Male and female flowers grow differently. Female plants bear fruit. Both males’ plants extract a type of sap from the plant which is used to make molasses. Its trunk is used as a pillar which is very strong. Its leaves are used to make hand fans and also firewood. The leaves of this tree were used for writing as paper. Taal juice is strong and stimulating. Molasses and sugar can be produced from the juice and they are used to prepare many delicious dishes.

 A study conducted by Bangladesh Agricultural University claims that the number of deaths due to lightning has increased in the last eight years and reached a total of 1800. Most of the dead were marginal farmers and farmworkers. This is the inevitable fate of the grassroots farmers who have been fighting against the hostile nature for ages. Farmers have to live with nature in pursuit of a livelihood. Ordinary farmers have to accept that punishment when nature becomes unfavorable. Scientists say that one of the main reasons for the increase in deaths due to lightning is the shortage of taal trees and date palms. Earlier, lightning struck taal trees or any other large tree. So, lightning would land on the ground through the trees.

In response to the call of Hon'ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, local authorities, thousands of taal trees have been planted in Bangladesh in the last few years to protect farmers from lightning. According to the country's disaster ministry, about 300 more people died in Bangladesh last year. Lightning protection systems are now part of the country's national disaster management plan and its national building code. Our present proposition will help in getting more plants through the participation of our students in planting taal seeds in their houses. There is no special procedure for taal trees. No separate land is required for this. Taal trees can be planted on any fallow land, pond edge, road or dam edge, backyard, or even any empty dry place in the city. As we have mentioned, the work of planting taal trees in the homestead can be done by students of all levels.

If we can plant one or two taal trees in every house of millions of families in Bangladesh, we will get millions of taal trees. On the other hand, student participation will work to protect Bangladesh from lightning and mitigate climate change by planting taal trees in rural areas, especially.     

 

The writer is a former Vice-Chancellor,

Pabna University of Science and Technology