Monday, 28 November, 2022

Vegetable farming on fallow land benefits many people in Rajshahi

RAJSHAHI: Sultanul Arefin, 48, a resident of Dhamila village under Godagari Upazila in the district, has become an icon in terms of farming vegetables in vacant places of mango orchards in both summer and winter seasons successfully.

Leaving his banking profession around two years back, he has been cultivating varieties of nutritive and safe vegetables and other fruits, including guava, malta and lemon, on 30 bigha of land in the remote village.

He has bottle gourd farming on bamboo-made stage in three and half bigha of vacant lands in mango orchard drawing attention to many people and other onlookers, reports BSS.

Talking to the agency here on Saturday, Arefin said he left his banking profession as senior cashier in AB Bank from his internal feelings of ensuring safe, nutritious and fresh fruits and vegetables.

He has established a garden which is improved, modernized and dependent on technology contributing a lot towards meeting demands of the society.

Side by side with meeting protein demands of his family and neighbours he has been selling his vegetables, including bottle gourds, to capital Dhaka for the last couple of weeks.

Many of his fellow farmers, including Monirul Islam and Shahabuddin, have also been cultivating vegetables and seasonal fruits on vacant lands of mango orchards after getting suggestions and assistances from the department of agriculture extension.

Sub Assistant Agriculture Officer Atanu Sarker told that Sultanul Arefin has set instances of meeting family protein demands through boosting production of safe vegetables after the best uses of fallow lands.

Meanwhile, fruit-vegetable combined farming method is infusing dynamism into the local economy as it opened up a new horizon in the field of agriculture in the region, including its vast Barind tract.

Like Sultanul Arefin, Monirul Islam and Shahabuddin, many other farmers are seen adopting the modern method because they are making additional income from the same land in less time benefiting the traders and consumers in many ways. 

Varieties of fruits and vegetables, including guava, lemon, cucumber, brinjal, papaya, radish, bean, cauliflower, cabbage, red spinach (lal shak), chili, pointed gourd, white gourd and balsam apple (corola) are being intercropped with orange, malta and dragon.

Engineer Sarwar Jahan, an agriculture entrepreneur of Huzripara village in Paba Upazila, has built a malta orchard on nine bigha of land in 2020 and cultivated early winter varieties of cauliflower, cabbage and green chili on the same land this season.

He has been selling those for the last couple of weeks. Around ten days back, he sold only chili worth around Taka 45,000, with malta valued at around Taka 60,000.

“I’m also getting a lucrative price of cauliflower and cabbage,” Sarwar Jahan said, adding he has more others of the high-value crops on the land. 

He also has a plan of transplanting seedlings of pumpkin and cucumber after harvesting the cauliflower and cabbage.

Mofakkar Hossain, a madrasa teacher, has cultivated cauliflower and cabbage on his dragon orchard on three-bigha of land at Puthiyapara village under the same upazila.

Hossain said he gained success in both the dragon and vegetable farming commercially and that has brought economic emancipation to his life.

Mango intercropping with various cereal crops especially paddy has started contributing a lot towards boosting mango yield in the region.

The intercropping has been gaining momentum in the region including its vast Barind tract as the growers in general are getting interested in the farming.

Godagari Upazila Agriculture Officer Moriam Khatun said vegetables have been cultivated on around 65 hectares of land in the mixed farming system in the upazila.

She said the multiple cropping increases farmers’ profit while boosting soil fertility.

Shamsul Wadud, Additional Director of Department of Agricultural Extension, said farmers’ interest in the method is seen rising gradually as they are reaping more profit in less time.

Quoting the latest official data he said vegetables have been cultivated on around 6,000 hectares in the mixed system in the region.