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Tangail villages set laudable example of organic farming

The whole country is now focused on growing more and more vegetables. There are some specific regions for cultivating vegetables. For example, Dainnya and Krishnapur in Tangail Sadar are famous for growing vegetables. Continue Reading

Bagging technology saves fruits from pests, improves quality

Phuterjhiri village is located in Bandarban’s Lama. Rubber, litchi, mango and many other fruits are cultivated in there. The hills are so high that it is quite difficult to see what is growing there. So, I went to see the place from very close. Continue Reading

May 1, 2016 Shykh Seraj Comments Off on Growers claim they hardly use chemicals on mangoes

Growers claim they hardly use chemicals on mangoes

Mango season knocks at the door. Throughout this season, mango will be like
a national fruit. Planned mango orchards have been set up in hills, estates,
chars, high and low-lying areas. Continue Reading

March 19, 2016 Shykh Seraj Comments Off on Guava orchards find success in Chapainawabganj

Guava orchards find success in Chapainawabganj

Cultivated in many districts, Bangladesh has become adept at producing guavas. Indeed the country has become the 8th largest guava producer worldwide.

Yet, when guavas first arrive in a new district it often takes the initiative and courage of a few pioneers to demonstrate its viability. Such has been the case in Chapainawabganj, where the efforts of Matiur Rahman have been at the forefront of introducing the guava orchard.

“Initially many people told me not to try cultivating guavas,” says Rahman, “but I took it as a challenge.”

A decade ago Rahman leased 11 bighas of land in Chapainawabganj’s Jamtala for his guava orchard, involving assets of about Taka 80 lakhs. Since then, with patience and hard work, he has expanded his plantation to 61bighas dedicated not only to guavas but a range of fruits.

Rahman follows the bagging method to protect his guava crop from pests. He cuts the stems regularly to promote growth. About guavas, Rahman is a passionate man.

“They are like my children,” he says while holding a guava hanging from one of the trees, “I love them, care for them and understand what they need.”

Coupled with market research and considerable study of guava cultivation techniques, Rahman is a lesson to all that a lot careful planned steps most often mark the journey of a successful farmer.

“There is always demand for guavas,” says Rahman, “but I focus on selling during the non-traditional dry months, including winter.” The decision to focus on dry season guavas is indicative of his willingness to pursue innovation. It has helped him secure handsome profits for his endeavours.

Rahman is fortunate in that wholesalers will often buy the whole orchard, which he also hopes to achieve for the harvest from his more than 600 pomegranate trees. “I anticipate I will get a good price for the pomegranates too,” says a confident Rahman.

He also has hundreds of malta trees, from which he has established a malta nursery. Rahman believes by selling each malta sapling for Tk 200 to farmers he can realise about Tk 28 lakhs.

After mangoes, guavas are now the second most important fruit crop nationally. According to the Department of Agriculture Extension around 400,000 tonnes are produced annually, adding up to Tk 6,000 crore to the economy.

Farmers have realised the benefits of guavas. Thanks to pioneering efforts of entrepreneurs like Matiur Rahman, the economic blessing of guava production will continue to find new soil, with orchard expansion into previously non-guava-growing districts like Chapainawabganj.

March 14, 2016 Shykh Seraj Comments Off on Reclaiming the golden fibre: the revival of jute

Reclaiming the golden fibre: the revival of jute

Jute, the golden fibre, was historically the great pride of Bangladesh. Then, due to several factors including increased use of artificial fibres and low jute prices farmers found less incentive to grow jute.

Many jute mills were forced to close, with jute production on the verge of extinction. However, in more recent years appreciation for the crop at home and abroad has risen, to the point where a welcome jute revival is well underway.

And by the time jute was returning to economic favour, Bangladesh had already discovered its genome sequence.

Another factor that has helped jute growers participate in growing demand for jute in contemporary times has been the development of a new technology, ‘ribbon rating.’ Whereas traditionally the necessary jute rotting processes relied on soaking in canals and ponds, nowadays many waterways have been filled, leaving jute farmers in quite a conundrum. In not requiring canal or pond, ribbon rating provides a useful alternative.

At the same time, there are serious efforts to promote demand for jute at the consumer level, including making it more export-attractive. Farmers too have responded to such efforts, eager to join the jute revival. But they are yet looking forward to fair prices for their crop.

Oddly however, markets in key jute producing districts like Magura, Faridpur and Chapainawabganj are full of Indian jute seeds.

“It is true many jute seeds come from India,” says deputy director of the Bangladesh Jute Research Institute Dr. Md. Kamal Uddin, “but the strength of Indian jute fibre is deficient. The fibre can become brittle while spinning and the wastage is higher. Local farmers do not understand these differences.”
One reason farmers don’t understand is because Indian jute seeds provide a larger harvest. “We can harvest more than 10 maunds of jute per pakhi of land with Indian seeds,” says one farmer from Faridpur. “With local jute seeds we can expect about 7 maunds.”

Farmers have also noticed that using the same seeds over a long period results in reduced harvests.

Another factor influencing the preference for Indian seeds is as simple as availability. “What can we do if nothing else is available?” questions one farmer. In Magura up to 80% of jute seeds in the market are Indian seeds, with supplies of local seeds from the Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation (BADC), including of the white, tossa, belon and mesta varieties, unable to meet demand.

According to BADC estimates, yearly demand for jute seeds is approximately 5,500 tonnes; while national production stands at a little over 1,100 tonnes. Thus the dependency of Bangladesh on imported seeds is quite large.
“We say our jute is excellent,” says State Minister Mirza Azam, “which implies it is superior to Indian jute. But we still bring seeds from India to produce jute here.” Initiatives to reduce this import dependency are underway, the minister adds.

In the meantime an inter-ministry convention may improve the situation for participant jute growers. From the next season, farmers will be offered training, financial help and agriculture inputs. “We will help them expand their jute production,” says the minister.

Farmers meanwhile believe that if the two issues of seed availability and fair prices for produce are properly addressed by the government, production of the golden fibre will continue to rise, to reach even greater potential.

February 17, 2016 Shykh Seraj Comments Off on Malta cultivation sees success in Pirojpur

Malta cultivation sees success in Pirojpur

The southern region of Bangladesh is blessed with fertile soil and abundant water. Farmers there are trying out diversified high value crops. Continue Reading

February 7, 2016 Shykh Seraj Comments Off on The traditional agri tech now a UN recognised heritage

The traditional agri tech now a UN recognised heritage

Each year during the monsoon months in Monohorpur village, of Pirojpur’s
Najirpur upazila, local farmers revisit the ways of ancestors.  Continue Reading

January 21, 2016 Shykh Seraj Comments Off on An unlikely patch of green in a grey mega city

An unlikely patch of green in a grey mega city

Sufia Akhter Jahan is passionate about her garden. Vegetables, fruits and herbs, she knows when each variety is thirsty or needs attention. She talks to the plants, sometimes gently strokes them to encourage growth. Continue Reading

January 11, 2016 Shykh Seraj Comments Off on Gazipur floodplain fish project a great success

Gazipur floodplain fish project a great success

The night is dark, the weather cold. Through winter’s silence, I move
from Kashimpur in Gazipur towards Namabazar. The clock says it’s the
time when the world is supposed to rest, when people usually sleep. Continue Reading

December 23, 2015 Shykh Seraj Comments Off on Lemon farming has changed the life of a Tangail farmer

Lemon farming has changed the life of a Tangail farmer

To make a living he did almost everything – worked as a housekeeper at people’s homes; was a shepherd for a long time, and sold different products on the roads as a ‘feriwala’ (hawker). Continue Reading

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