A group of five educated unemployed youths have found the path of becoming self-reliant through establishing orchards of non-conventional but high-value fruits and crops in the region, particularly in its drought-prone Barind area.
Hassan Ali, 27, one of them, said they are dreaming of attaining economic emancipation through the venture as they are getting yields of some of the transplanted trees.
Under the project, 900 coffee, 80 avocado, 120 Taiwanese green mango and 125 Saudi date trees were planted.
In the meantime, productions of coffee, avocado and Taiwanese green mango have been started.
"We are expecting to get yields of Saudi date within the next few days," Hassan Ali said, adding that they initiated the venture with financial support worth Taka 7.5 lakh received from Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKSF) in the initial stage.
He also expected that the venture will give them returns worth around Taka 30 lakh every year when the production will start in full-swing within the next couple of years.
Sohel Rana, 35, another entrepreneur of the upazila headquarter, has become an icon in the field of producing high-valued and nutritious fruit and crops in the region.
Afterwards in 2018, Rana took lease of 70 bigha of land and developed a modern agriculture farm named "Barendra Agro Park" on the land.
He has been producing varieties of non-conventional but high-valued fruits and crops in safe and hygienic manner through following the 'global good agriculture practice' since the initial stage.
"I have been exporting my products in eight countries of Europe and the Middle east for the last two years," he added with a smiling face.
Sohel Rana said he received technical and input support from a project titled "Popularizing of High Valued Unconventional Fruit and Medicinal Crop in the Barind Area".
He has been producing fruits and crops on around 50 acres of land successfully giving employment to around 50 people. He has varieties of high-valued fruits and crops, including Saudi date, avocado, persimmon, dragon, alu bukhara, coffee, mulberry, asparagus, aloe vera, malta and kaju badam, at present.
Barind Multipurpose Development Authority (BMDA), the ever-largest irrigation providing state-owned entity in the country's northwest region, has been implementing the project since early last year.
Project Director ATM Rafiqul Islam said as successful agriculture entrepreneur Sohel Rana has earned the National Youth Award by the President in 2021 as recognition to his laudable contribution to this field.
Like Sohel Rana, many other youths have become successful agriculture entrepreneurs through boosting high-valued fruits and vegetables contributing to the society and the nation as well in multifarious ways.
Rafiqul Islam the five-year project is being implemented in 13 upazilas of Rajshahi, Chapainawabganj and Naogaon districts at a cost of around Taka 17.34 crore.
Around 52 demonstration orchards are being generated aimed at boosting production of high-valued non-conventional fruits and medicinal crops through popularizing farming of those in the Barind area.
Besides, initiative has been taken to generate more orchards of the highly valued fruits and field crops in personal lands and homesteads of the farmers in the dried area.
To this end, 4.15 lakh saplings and 2,000 kilograms of seeds of nonconventional fruits and crops are being distributed among the farmers free of cost.
Some 1,500 farmers and 310 officers and employees are being imparted training on production, transplantation, nurturing and other techniques of the seedlings.
"We've set the target of establishing 22 orchards for fruits, 20 for field crops, eight for spices and two for beverages," he said, adding that most of the highly valued nonconventional fruits, field crops, spices and herbs will be brought under demonstration.
Upon successful implementation by June, 2025, the project is expected to contribute a lot to enhance the number of orchards of nonconventional fruits and medicinal crops.