Local Malta is delicious and tastes better than the imported varieties, says upazila agricultural officer
Mazharul Islam, a returnee migrant from South Korea, has proved himself as a successful entrepreneur since his involvement in various citrus fruit farming in Rajshahi barind area.
Mazharul, a resident of Benipur village under Godagari upazila, has, so far, developed fruit orchards on 43 bigha of lands taken lease from others and two bigha of his own land.
Currently, he has 3,200 jujube trees as inter-cropping and 1,400 other high yielding jujube trees separately and all those are in fruit-bearing condition at present. Besides, he has china lemon farming on 20 bigha and china and Darjeeling orange on six bigha, BARI Malta-1 on six bigha and guava on six bigha.
When he was in South Korea he learnt how to produce fruits of new varieties after the best uses of modern farming technologies. He was awarded the Employment Permit System (EPS) award by the Korean government as recognition for his seven best practices including discipline, Korean language, remittance and social works.
After getting the EPS award he travelled to Australia, Canada, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Portugal and France with the Korean government expenditure.
Besides, he was given the proposal of providing a green card on behalf of the Korean government. But, he returned to his homeland amidst attraction to it instead of accepting the lucrative proposal in 2018.
Since then, he kept himself involved in the fruit gardening in addition to various seasonal vegetables as intercropping and emerged himself as a potential fruit farmer.
Another returnee-migrant Kawsar Ali developed a malta orchard on a one-acre of land at Godagari upazila in Rajshahi.
Returning home from abroad after 12 years, Ali put in all-out efforts in the orchard. He planted Bari Malta-1 saplings two years ago, seeing a good return from the farming of the fruits.
In the current season, he has, so far, harvested and sold malta worth around Tk1.5 lakh.
Kawsar Ali said when he returned home, he was confused about what to do. Then he became interested in farming Malta seeing many others in the locality.
He also learned that the farmers can get a good return from the farming of Malta as there is a high demand for the fruit in the local market. But the fruit can be harvested after three years of planting the seedlings.
He planted guava saplings in between the Malta trees in the orchard keeping in mind the cost for maintaining the orchard.
Around the garden, he started cultivating all kinds of vegetables, including banana, grapes, sweet pumpkin, onion, garlic and pepper at the same time.
Besides, various other seedlings including lemon and cardamom were planted there.
Godagari Upazila Agriculture Extension Officer Matiur Rahman said there is a water crisis at Godagari as it is in the Barind region. So, the farmers in this region are getting interested in farming various citrus fruits as they take less water to get good yield with a little care.
Only Malta is being cultivated on 90 bighas of land in this upazila, said the agricultural officer.
“Consumers get fresh malta as these are sold directly from the orchard to the market. Local Malta is delicious and tastes better than the imported varieties,” he said.
On behalf of its ‘Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) Project, DASCOH Foundation, a non-government organization, is extending technical and financial support to the farmers for boosting the citrus fruit production in the region as part of its effort to promote the less-water consuming crops in the drought-prone area.
Coordinator of the project, Jahangir Alam Khan said they provided financial support worth Taka 31.17 lakh for installation of around 20 submersible pumps with 11 solar panels for ensuring irrigation facilities to around 200 bigha of malta farming fields in drip method.
So far, 500 farmers and local government representatives were imparted training on how to cultivate the crop properly.
In terms of food and nutritive values green and ripe fruits are vital as these are enriched with enormous vitamin A, B, C, calcium and iron which are essential for human body irrespective of age and sex. So, boosted up fruit farming is very important and helpful for society as a whole.