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Bangladesh : Strawberry farming to sweeten economy

Successful cultivation of lip-smacking strawberry has ushered in a new economic prospect for thousands of people at Matiranga, a remote upazila in Khagrachhari district. Matiranga Zone of Bangladesh Army grew strawberry on an experimental basis following the success in the first such cultivation at Rajshahi University (RU).
With the success, the Zone is now set to go for popularising strawberry cultivation in the upazila, providing the locals with required supports, sources said.

The initiative was taken as cultivation of the fruit on a small piece of land with a little investment can help an individual earn handsome profit in the hilly upazila where people mainly depend on agriculture but lack cultivable land, said the sources in Matiranga Army Zone. Strawberry cultivation does not need much land and takes time not more than two and a half months. It is not a tough job, as a farmer only needs to process the soil a little. Lack of farmland forces the poor hilly people to go for 'Jhoom' cultivation, a way of growing crops on the slopes of hills, they said. Jhoom cultivation is also risky as it causes natural disaster like landslides.

Some 200 saplings planted at the Zone compound around two and a half months back brought forth a good yield this month proving the initiative a success. The strawberry grown at Matiranga belongs to a special species, which Prof Manjur Hossain of RU botany department developed with the help of Prof Rafiul Islam and some students of the department. Both the professors were invited at a ceremony organised on the occasion of harvesting strawberry at the Army Zone on Saturday.

The professors said they started a research in this regard in 1996 and found three species, Rabi-1, Rabi-3 and Rabi-3, in 2003. Of them, Rabi-3 is cultivated at Matiranga since it produces saplings faster than the other two species. Prof Manjur said, “Strawberry usually grows in the countries where winter prevails most of the time and our climate is not suitable for the plants. That’s why we developed the species that can be grown here." Prices of imported strawberry vary from Tk 900 to Tk 1000 per kg. A farmer can yield 2000 kg of strawberry from one bigha of land. "If we sell strawberry even at Tk 100 per kg, it will help earn Tk 2 lakh from one bigha", said Prof Manjur.

At first the farmers have to buy the mother plants from the university at Tk 20 per sapling and later they will be able to produce the saplings themselves, he said. The teachers already trained 129 persons from 24 districts on strawberry cultivation and sent saplings to the districts for experimental farming. Zone Commander Lt Col Yusuf said, "Strawberry has a huge demand abroad and we are trying to help the locals make profit with small investment."


Source: thedailystar.net


Publication date: 3/26/2008


 


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