Dr. Abed Chaudhury in his own village, Kanihati, within the Hajipur union of Kulaura upazila in Moulvibazar. Photo: Collected

An agricultural transformation has been unfolding in the scenic rural village of Kanihati, nestled within the Hajipur union of Kulaura upazila in Moulvibazar, Bangladesh. The horizon fields of this village, once dedicated to traditional paddy cultivation, now host a unique method for rice cultivation that has sparked curiosity and excitement among the local community.

The Panchabrihi method followed growing paddy dancing in the crop field of Kanihati, Sylhet. Photo: Collected

Amidst the dewy air, golden crops sway in the breeze, creating a mesmerizing sight. What sets these paddy fields apart is their exceptional productivity and cultivation method. The new method yields crops five times throughout the year, a feat previously unimaginable in traditional rice farming methods.

The architect of this agricultural marvel is Dr. Abed Chaudhury, a Bangladeshi rice researcher and geneticist. He has worked tirelessly to develop a rice cultivation method that produces harvests at an unprecedented rate. Instead of replanting for each season, this extraordinary rice cultivation method can bear fruit repeatedly, saving time and resources for the farmers of Kanihati and thousands of other rural areas in Bangladesh and beyond.

The fifth harvest of the rice cultivation technique is named ‘Panchabrihi.’ Photo: Collected

Dr. Abed Chaudhury, the man behind this innovation, has named this remarkable rice cultivation method ‘Panchabrihi’ in honor of its quintuple harvests from a single plant. In Bengali, ‘pancha’ means five. The story of Kanihati village is one of agricultural transformation, where the fields once dedicated to traditional paddy cultivation have become a living testament to the pioneering work of Dr. Abed Chaudhury. With ‘Panchabrihi,’ he has provided local farmers with the possibility of multiple harvests from a single plant, promising a new chapter in rice farming in the heart of Bangladesh.

Paddy yield was enhanced through the application of the Panchabrihi method. Photo: Collected

However, not everyone in the agricultural community shares the same view about the sustainability of the new variety, but I remain hopeful. According to newspaper reports, some experts, like Dr. Md. Shahjahan Kabir, the Director-General (DG) of the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI), have expressed concerns about the sustainability of this approach and the potential for reduced yields. There have been discussions about these issues, as mentioned by the DG of BRRI, but I hope those obstacles will be overcome in the coming days. Dr. Abed has been working with that variety for over a decade, and I believe these efforts won’t be in vain.

Although I now live far away from my country, good news brings me immense pleasure. The news about the invention of the new rice cultivation method, “Panchabrihi,” is something that resonates with me. Some people ask, “If you care so much for your country, why did you leave it?” The answer may be found in the life story of Dr. Abed Chaudhury.

In 1979, Dr. Abed Chaudhury went to the USA to seek higher education in Chemistry and Molecular Biology, and he has lived overseas ever since. He attended Graduate School at the Institute of Molecular Biology, University of Oregon. He conducted post-doctoral research at NIH and the Department of Biology at MIT before moving to Australia to work at the CSIRO Plant Industry.

Later, he founded his own organization to run a crop breeding operation in Bangladesh for over 15 years, resulting in many innovations such as Extended Life Rice, Blood Glucose Reducing Rice, and ultimately, the “Panchabrihi” rice cultivation method. He continued the heterosis-based breeding methodology in Bangladesh in rice and many other crops, developing hundreds of new varieties, many of which he donated to the Bangladesh Government via Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation (BADC) and BRRI. He also developed many varieties of crops important for human nutrition, such as black rice, black tomato, and glucose-reducing rice. Now, he’s developing technologies for reversing climate change using microbial biology.

I’m unsure if he would have reached the same position and conducted such extensive research in his field if he had stayed in Bangladesh. In a country where corruption and bribery have become daily routines, it’s a valid question. Would he have received the same facilities to undertake extensive research if he had stayed here? Although he left his country long ago, he still remembered his motherland. That’s why he was trying to invent something that could feed the people of his country and make his country food-secure. According to Dr. Chaudhury, Bangladesh can guarantee food security for its entire population for 50 years by disseminating this rice cultivation technique among farmers nationwide. Yes, there is a chance of failure or success, but dedication is essential.

His written quote in his professional portfolio reminds me that, although he is now on a bigger stage, he has not forgotten his roots:

“I was born in rural Sylhet and learned the details of cropping systems and biodiversity firsthand.”

Those roots are crucial for people like me.

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