There are no doubt simpler ways of milling grains of mustard to extract the oil so beloved by Bangladeshi cooks, but no one can dispute the magnificence of the tradition that lies behind this method of milling still used near Tangail.
The treadmill has awful connotations of prison and penal servitude through the ages, probably in most parts of the world.
Even in this traditional agricultural centre the cattle are blindfolded, so as not to distract them from the monotony of their task. It is hard to imagine how a human being would cope!
Bangladesh is a country still rich in agricultural tradition, whilst simultaneously developing means of improving their food security for a rapidly growing population.
Where once there were one or two crops of rice a year, and plenty harvested from the verdant soils of the world’s largest river delta system, there are now often three or four.
But mustard seems to be an annual crop. Early in the year the vast fields of Bangladesh turn yellow with the mustard flower, which can then be harvested to squeeze for oil or dried to produce the internationally popular condiment.
But these poor cattle would know nothing of all that, or care, were it not for the cattle feed produced from the ‘chaff’.