After 18 months, date flowers started blooming and I felt like winning a war, said Rubel
Obaidul Islam Rubel, in his mid-30s, did not achieve his success in Saudi date farming overnight. He had to work hard towards his lofty dream as he was discouraged by all – neighbours, relatives and friends.
"Everybody, except my father, discouraged me saying Saudi dates are unlikely to grow in Bangladesh. And this hurt me badly,” said Rubel, a resident of Bherendi village in Nachol upazila Chapainawabganj district.
Determined to chase his dream, the young man disregarded the discouragements and successfully cultivated Saudi dates in Bangladeshi soil. Rubel’s amazing success not only changed his fortune but also made him popular in his home district.
Rubel said he had been helping his poor father cultivate crops since he completed his Secondary School Certificate (SSC) examination in 2007.
One fine morning, Rubel said, he decided to try his luck by cultivating the dates which are grown in the Middle East.
Rubel started searching articles and videos on date farming on the Internet, particularly the Saudi ones, and shared his idea with his father. His father promised to help him in every way.
Later, he started collecting date seeds from his relatives living in Saudi Arabia. In 2017, Rubel brought 1.5 bighas of land under date palm cultivation with 830 saplings.
“Eighteen months after the plantation, date flowers started blooming and I felt like winning a war,” Rubel recalled.
Now he has 3,000 date palm trees on his three bighas of land -- all varieties of dates like Mariam, Sukkari, Barhi, Ambar and Halawy. “This year, I expect huge profits as 200 trees are full of fruits and they taste good. Many buyers throng my date palm orchard. I’m selling it at Tk200-300 per kg.
“In the first three years, I just nurtured my trees. In 2019, I sold some plants. Last year, I sold dates as well as date palm trees. So far, I’ve spent Tk10 lakh and earned Tk16 lakh.” said Rubel.
“A date tree needs five to seven years to mature, and dates can be collected from a matured tree for a long time. The yield increases with the passage of time,” he said.
Meherul Islam, a resident of the area, said, “At first I took it lightly thinking how Saudi dates could be produced in Bangladesh! But after seeing the dates in his trees, I was stunned. The dates produced by Rubel are really delicious!”
People from other upazilas of the district are inspired by Rubel, and shared their plans to cultivate date palm in their lands.
Nazrul Islam, Deputy Director of Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE), said, “As the nature of the soil in the Barind area of the district has similarity with that of Saudi Arabia, dates can be produced in the area. The demand for dates is high, and it has proved to be more profitable. We’re visiting Rubel’s date palm orchard regularly and helping him with the necessary advice,” he said.