Lalmonirhat youths find success in dragon fruit farming

National Desk

13 July, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Many youths at Kamalabari Battala village of Lalmonirhat’s Aditmari upazila are now following a youth’s footsteps as he has successfully cultivated dragon fruit for the first time in the upazila.

Abu Taleb, a Kamalabari Battala village of Lalmonirhat’s Aditmari upazila is gradually becoming a centre of attraction for people of surrounding areas after a youth has successfully cultivated dragon fruit for the first time in the upazila.

The moment Abu Taleb tasted the dragon fruit for the first time in his life two years ago he knew he got stuck to it forever.

On a sunny day in 2019 his farm in Faridpur treated a visiting foreign team with the pink coloured fruit with juicy flesh and black seeds inside.

He and his colleagues had them too.

That was the day a highly impressed Taleb decided to move to his village at Kamalabari Battala area of Lalmonirhat’s Aditmari upazila determined to go for commercial cultivation of the fruit that grows from cactus-like plants.

Two years down the line the 37-year-old man has developed a dragon fruit garden on three bighas of land from where he hopes to sell fruits worth up to Tk. 10 lakh. 

Taleb, head of a 12-member family, with an average monthly income of Tk. 1 lakh, has so far earned Tk. 4 lakh from dragon fruit and its saplings.

His start was not as easy as he thought. He had to take several sessions with at local agricultural extension department to learn more about the method of the fruit’s cultivation.

He also got useful instructions from farmers who cultivated the fruit in other districts.

With the help of his two brothers he first planted 20 thousand saplings supported by more than 5 hundred pillars. He collected dragon fruit saplings from Natore.

Luck took his side. Although the plants were supposed to have fruits in one and half years, these started bearing fruits within 10-11 months.

Then Taleb began producing saplings as well which he sold for Tk 50 per piece and so far he earned Tk. 50,000 from this business.

His garden, first in the district, is now filled with dragon plants, its flowers and fruits. Curious people are flocking to see the garden. 

A beaming Taleb said, “Each plant can produce 12-15 kg of dragon fruit. I am selling it for Tk. 200-250 per kg from the garden.”

He hoped that he would have a sale of Tk 8-10 lakh from his garden.

One could also make profit selling the dragon fruit at Tk. 50 per kg from the garden, he added.

Mohammad Abdullah, a local farmer, said he bought 100 dragon saplings from Taleb in January and planted them.

He learned the cultivation method from him as well.

If successful like Taleb, he would start cultivating dragons on a large scale. The farmer further said, ‘Long-term gross investment is required in dragon fruit cultivation. That is our major barrier.’

Shamim Ashraf, deputy director of the Lalmonirhat Agricultural Extension Department, said farmers are becoming interested in cultivating dragon fruit. Many have already started cultivating this fruit.

“The Department of Agriculture is also inspiring them to cultivate this foreign fruit providing them with necessary farming methods.

He added, ‘Dragon fruit cultivation only requires high lands free from water logging.

Along with proper care this fruit cultivation needs high capital to be invested, due to which many farmers are not able to cultivate even though they are interested.

Dragon fruit, which travelled from Central America to Asia, made its first arrival around 2013. Since then it’s cultivation began in the northern districts of Dinajpur, Thakurgaon, Panchagarh and Nilphamari.

Now the fruit is hardly considered foreign. Its cultivation has spread in many parts of the country with favourable tropical climate of Bangladesh.

Ancient Chinese legends say dragon fruit was created by a dragon in a battle when it spewed fire containing the fruit. Notwithstanding the legends the fruit has come to stay in Bangladesh winning many hearts not only with its taste, but also with the many vitamins it contains. It’s good for diabetes too, health experts say.