Commercial cultivation of Strawberry, a succulent fruit popular in different parts of the globe, has been gaining popularity in Rajshahi region for the last couple of years.
Farmers in the region are extending the cultivation of the fruit because of its economic prospects. Now, a large number of unemployed youths of Rajshahi region have become dependent on strawberry farming to earn a living.
Agriculturists said that the strawberry farming can bring a new horizon to the agriculture sector in the region. The youths are supplying strawberry to different markets across the country as the soft fruit is being used in preparing ice-cream, jam, jelly, pickles, chocolates and biscuits.
Prof Dr Manzur Hossain of Department of Botany in Rajshahi University said Bangladeshi strawberry variety has been adjudged as the world’s best strawberry. “We have innovated three varieties through applying tissue culture method. In the demonstration field, all those were found adaptive to the region’s soil and environmental conditions,” he said.
He further said that the new variety of strawberry can be harvested within two and a half months of its plantation and a farmer can earn around Tk 1.5 lakh by farming it on one bigha of land with expenditure of only Taka 30,000.
BSS adds: Kawsar Habib, 32, a resident of Kalupur village under Shibganj upazila in Chapainawabganj district, has brought economic emancipation in his life through strawberry farming. He is now very much hopeful of making profit worth around Tk five to six lakh this season. “I have spent around Taka six lakh for cultivating the cash crop on six bigha of land,” said Habib while talking to BSS on Wednesday.
Seven people work in his field as regular in addition to seven to eight others as casual workers. Sadrul Islam, 42, who used to work as assistant of a truck driver couple of years ago, has now become a successful strawberry farmer. He says strawberry farming is profitable than many other crops. But this farming needs additional labour and care.
Abul Kalam, a farmer of Darusha village under Paba upazila, said strawberry, a succulent fruit popular in different parts of the globe, is also gradually becoming popular among the local people. At present, they are selling strawberry at Taka 1,000 to 1,200 per kilogram.
Habib, Islam and Kalam are among many others who have built their fortune through strawberry farming in the area.
Md Aminuzzaman, Upazila Agriculture Officer, says strawberry was cultivated on more than 70 bighs of lands in the upazila this season.
Harvesting begins in January and continues till March. But the farmers get maximum yield in February. Normally, a farmer can get 1,500 to 2,000 kilograms yield from one bigha of land.
He added that the strawberry farming has gained popularity not only in Shibganj but also everywhere in Rajshahi region for economic prospect of the cash crop.
ATM Rafiqul Islam, Deputy Manager (Agriculture) of Barind Multipurpose Development Authority, said there has been a bright prospect of farming strawberry everywhere in the country excepting the coastal districts.
The red juicy and nutritious fruit produced by him is now being supplied to posh markets in the capital Dhaka.
The country can earn huge foreign currencies from strawberry export if its commercial farming starts at national level, he hoped.
“The fruit will no doubt be a profitable crop for farmers. If it is grown on a large scale, the highly nutritious fruit will come within the reach of the common people. There will be no need for imports,” said Agriculturist Rafique.