Dulali Begum, a resident of Surandah village at Ramjibon union in Sundarganj upazila, has generated huge interest among local farmers by cultivating purple rice, a rare variety believed to have many health benefits.
Purple rice, rich in antioxidants, has properties that can help prevent cancer, diabetes and heart disease, according to some experts.
Officials at Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) in Sundarganj upazila said seeing the success of Dulali Begum they have taken steps to popularise the rice among farmers.
Upazila agriculture officer Rashedul Islam said Dulali found two fists of seeds of purple rice in a packet of paddy seed which she had bought from a local market two years ago. She later sowed the seeds in a land.
After getting seed plant, she cultivated it in the last boro season and got six kilograms of rice. She did not use the rice and cultivated it further on 18 decimals of land this year, Rashedul said.
He said her paddy field now turned into a purple one and created a new attraction. The yield is also good.
Many people are now coming from different districts to visit Dulali's paddy field and some of them are coming to collect the seed.
Dulali said she expects that the purple rice will become popular across the country.
The agriculture officer said the rice was cultivated in China long ago. Only rich people used to take it believing that it would help them get a long life. In Bangladesh, the purple rice was first cultivated in Cumilla.
He said the purple rice decreases the risks of cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
Rashedul added that they bought the paddy from Dulali's field to spread the seed of the rice across the country.
According to a study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, purple rice contains more antioxidant compounds than the white ones.
Antioxidants have been shown to promote heart health and may help lower the risk of some cancers. They help protect the body's cells from harmful free radicals.