The agricultural museum at Kaligram village at Mandar in the district of Naogaon represents a noble purpose, exhibiting various ancient agricultural tools used by the erstwhile farming communities as well as imparting knowledge to their posterity.
Established in 2008 by Jahangir Alam Shah, an assistant teacher at Rajshahi Government Collegiate School, the museum has come into being on his private initiative in his ancestral home.
The museum exhibits "Ari" (an ancient wooden agricultural tool) once used for measuring paddy in and around Cox's Bazar. In agriculture, farmers across the country, including Feni, used Jumla Mathal (a hat made of Golpata) to survive hostile weather.
Among other antiques, the visitors can see a fence (used for sitting) of the Santals named as "Gandu".
The one-of-a-kind agricultural museum has rope tackers, cattle-drawn yokes, traps for herons, hammers, mills for flour, oil and lentils, oil measuring pipes, soils of different areas and many other rare and priceless items.
There are 50 categories of items on display. Different agricultural elements, collected from districts, have been sorted into an order outside the main building of the museum.
Jahangir Alam Shah said in 2018, he had collected a rice-measuring device "Ari" from a Cox's Bazar resident. The instrument was 95 years old, and in 2011, he fetched the Mathal from a person named Alamgir in Feni.
Long ago, a doctor of Rajshahi Medical College Hospital presented an agricultural book to Jahangir Shah. Accordingly, he developed the idea of building an agricultural library.
Gradually, Jahangir set up the Agricultural Information Library. While building this library, he came up with the idea of collecting rural agricultural materials. So, he contacted people of different districts and started amassing the old farming equipment with their support.
"While establishing the agricultural library, it came to my mind that alongside the library, I should gather agricultural materials too," he said.
The library is helping farmers hone their skills while the museum is likely to equip the new generation with knowledge about the antique tools used by the then farming community, he added.
The Agricultural Library
At present, the library has more than 6,000 rare books on agriculture. Farmers visit the library and read the books. They also practice agricultural poetry in the library as well.
Besides, Jahangir Shah has planted around 250 medicinal plants and 44 fruit trees in his ancestral home. He also wrote a book titled "Krishi Panjika," and a few more books on agriculture are awaiting publication.
In recognition of his contribution to agriculture, Jahangir Alam Shah was awarded several local and national accolades. He won Bangabandhu National Agriculture Award.
As per the initiative of his library, trainings are arranged for farmers in local level. Besides, seminars on agriculture are also organised, he said.
Researchers from home and abroad arrive here to study in the library and visit the museum. Visitors from different parts of the country, including teachers, students, farmers and people of all strata regularly pay a visit to the museum.
It is the only and private agricultural museum in Bangladesh, according to those fond of agricultural museum.
Saidur Rahman, a farmer from Bagmara in Rajshahi, went to the museum with his family. He said, "I am a farmer, but I came here to learn more about agriculture."
Hazrat Ali and Joynal, farmers of Kaligram village, said agricultural scientists and researchers come to see this agricultural library and museum.
"It creates an opportunity to exchange views with the farmers of our village. Besides, Jahangir Shah arranges various trainings for farmers to promote their skill," they said.
Bishwajit Karmaker, chief scientific officer, Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI), eulogized Jahangir's noble initiative.
He said: "I have visited 480 police stations in 64 districts across the country, but I haven't seen such a museum anywhere in Bangladesh."
He recalled that he had only seen such museums in the Philippines.
"I think entrepreneurs like Jahangir Alam Shah should come forward to build agricultural libraries and museums in different parts of the country."
He added that inspired by Jahangir Shah, building an agricultural museum under the government initiative is underway.
The BRRI official further said Jahangir Shah will be able to expand his museum if he gets patronisation from the government.