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Farmer wins TV for killing 83,450 rats

Associated Press / October 1, 2009

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DHAKA, Bangladesh - Bangladesh yesterday awarded a color television to a farmer who killed more than 83,000 rats, and launched a monthlong campaign nationwide to kill millions more, to protect crops and reduce the need for food imports.

Mokhairul Islam, 40, won first prize for killing some 83,450 rats in the past nine months in Gazipur district near the South Asian country’s capital, Dhaka. He collected their tails for proof.

“I am so happy to get this honor,’’ Islam said after receiving a 14-inch television and a certificate amid cheers at a ceremony packed with 500 farmers and officials. “I had no idea that the government gives prizes for this.’’

“This is an exciting moment. I will continue to kill them,’’ he vowed.

Officials say the impoverished nation imports some 3 million tons of food annually, and the Ministry of Agriculture estimates that rodents destroy 1.5 million to 2 million tons of food a year.

“We can cut the import of food by at least half if we can succeed in this year’s campaign,’’ said Wais Kabir, executive chairman of the Bangladesh Agriculture Research Council.

He asked everyone, especially farmers, to take on the mission as a sport. The government has said it will train mainly farmers and students.