Friday, 21 January, 2022

Rajshahi farmers earn fortune from dragon fruit cultivation

Rajshahi farmers earn fortune from dragon fruit cultivation

RAJSHAHI: Dragon farming has opened up fortunes of many of the farmers as the cash crop is being judged as lucrative compared to other ones in the region, including its vast Barind tract, for the last couple of years.

Commercial farming of dragon fruit, a cactus species fruit, originally from Central America, South America, and nowadays common in Southeast Asia and China is gaining popularity in the region gradually, reports BSS.

Shafiul Islam Mukta, a resident of Godagari Upazila, said he has developed three dragon orchards on 52 bigha of land in Gogram and Matikata areas.

He earned Taka 27 lakh last year and has also sold a kg of dragon fruit at Taka 200 to 400 based on size, quality and colour in this season.

Relating to the production cost he said around Taka 2.60 lakh is required for dragon farming in one bigha of land.

Asadul Islam Helal has exposed himself as a new successful entrepreneur by involving in dragon fruit farming in Barind area.

A farmer of Bidirpur village under Godagari Upazila, Helal had planted some dragon seedlings being inspired with his long lasting hobby around six years back.

Later, he started farming of dragon, a delicious and high-valued but non-conventional fruit in the region, on four acres of land in 2019 commercially.

“I have to spend around Taka nine lakh for the farming on each acre of land,” said Helal while talking to the agency on Wednesday, adding, around one and half years time is needed to get fruit since the planting of seedlings.

During the summer season, fruits are harvested from June to November. “I have already harvested and sold dragon fruits valued around Taka 16 lakh during the current season,” said Helal with a smiling face. Currently, he has become a job-provider after leaving his institutional job earlier.

Many other enthusiastic farmers like Mukta and Helal have developed themselves as successful entrepreneurs through the dragon farming in the Barind area.

Thereby, commercial farming of dragon fruit has started gaining popularity in the Barind area after the best uses of its suitable climate condition and topography for the last couple of years, said Jahangir Alam Khan, Director of Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) Project.

Many of the entrepreneurs have set up dragon orchards and are doing successful business in different areas of the dried region.

On behalf of the IWRM project, various forms of cost-effective irrigation technologies like drip irrigation and alternate furrow irrigation are being promoted in the dragon farming in the drought-prone Barind area in order to reduce the gradually mounting cost for irrigation besides boosting soil productivity.

Dragon fruit is suitable for everyone to eat. Flesh and seeds are edible parts and they are eaten altogether. It supplies fiber which is digestive and helpful for a healthy liver. The rest of the fruit contains carbohydrates and water.

It has mild sweet tastes and is especially low in calories, said Dr Khalilur Rahman, a professor of the department of internal medicine in Rajshahi Medical College Hospital, adding the seeds are digested only if chewed. The flavonoids in dragon fruit lower the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure.

It also reduces oxidative stress and artery stiffness as found in animal studies and therefore is thought to prevent complications associated with diabetes.

The high antioxidant levels lower the risk of many types of cancer, Dr Rahman elaborated.

Sirajul Islam, Additional Director of Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), said the dragon fruit has been cultivated on more than 260 bighas of land only in the Barind area.

Looks like a cactus, each dragon tree lasts for 20-30 years and gives 20-25 fruits each season. Though the fruit is new in the country, there is a demand for the fruit among people, he added.