Bahari Farmer

5 September 2023

When I was in school, there were a number of programs loaded onto the computers. I did not know what many of them were for, or how to use them, but loaded them anyway to see what happened. One such program was Bahari Farmer.

This is an educational game created by John Stainfield and Paul Bailey, sometime around 1995. The premise is thus: you are a farmer in Bihar, India, with only some rice seed to your name. You must plant this seed on your farm, and depending on various factors (such as the weather) you will have to decide between feeding your family and selling it for money.

The extra money can then be used to improve your farmland, for example to employ better irrigation techniques, or by pesticides. This might improve your rice yield and give you extra money, etc. However, if you don't grow enough, your family will starve.

You are in competition with the rest of the market as well, and there are many more interesting pitfalls.

As an educational title, it seeks to demonstrate the many struggles of living as a poor farmer, how the odds are stacked against you at the start, and show that sometimes even the best choices can lead to failure.

Gameplay wise, it reminds me slightly of the game Taipan - the right choices can get you money, if you're lucky. The wrong choices can cost you dearly.

Unfortunately I haven't played this game since I was at school all that time ago. The only thing I could find about it on the Internet was a copy of the manual, alas without pictures. So, here is my artist's impression of the game, after about 25 years...

Badly drawn and badly remembered program screen.

Probably a million miles off...

The most memorable thing about this game is one quote in particular. I'm not going to reproduce it exactly in case I misunderstood (I was a kid, and it was a quarter century ago), but essentially... if you attempted to sell the rice too cheaply at the market, you would be told that your children's lives were at risk. Yikes!

If you do have a copy of this game kicking around that you'd be willing to share, I'd love to see it again.

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