Dragon fruit farming creates entrepreneurs in Rajshahi
Asadul Islam Helal has exposed himself as a new successful entrepreneur by involving in dragon fruit farming in Rajshahi Barind area for the last couple of years.
A farmer of Bidirpur village under Godagari Upazila in Rajshahi district, 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 BSS on Sunday, adding, around one year’s 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 14 lakh during the current season,” said Helal with his smiling face.
Currently, he has become a job-provider after leaving his institutional job earlier.
Many other enthusiastic farmers like Helal have developed themselves as successful entrepreneurs through the dragon farming in the vast 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, fertigation 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.
An orchard of dragon has been established on seven bighas of land in Pirijpur area under Godagari Upazila on a joint venture namely Pirijpur Agro Farm Limited.
“We are harvesting and selling dragon on online amid the Covid-19 pandemic at present,” said Shish Muhammad, a shareholder of Pirijpur Agro Farm, adding they are getting enormous response from the wholesalers and retailers.
In addition to meeting local demands, they are reaching their harvested fruits to different areas in the capital city Dhaka and port city Chattogram through courier services, he said.
Muhammad mentioned that they have already harvested and marketed 3,200 kilograms of matured dragon during the current season.
More other ripened dragons are expected to be harvested within the next couple of days, he added.
The fruit is being sold at Taka 400 to 550 per kilogram according to size and quality at present.
Hedayetul Islam, an entrepreneur, has established an orchard on ten bighas of land in Boshantapur area under the same upazila.
Rafiqul Islam along with three of his friends first started to cultivate the fruit on experimental basis in Kendobona area under Nachole Upazila in Chapainawabgonj district. After getting some profit, they became more interested in cultivating the profitable fruit on a large scale.
Rafiqul mentioned that the cultivation of the fruit is profitable and they are expecting good profit this year. He said the cultivation process is not only easy but also the required investment is very low.
He said they sell the fruit to local customers for Tk 300-400 per kilogram. Rafiqul’s friend and business partner Nur-e-Alam Siddiqi Babu said the demand of the fruit is increasing as it looks beautiful and the taste is also good.
Abdul Matin, another farmer of Gofanagar village under Mohadevpur upazila in Naogaon, has set an instance of becoming successful through dragon farming in the area.
Dhirendra Nath Roy, 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 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.
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 healthy liver. The rest portion of the fruit contains carbohydrates and water.
It has mild sweet tastes and is especially low in calories, said Dr Mahbubur Rahman Khan, 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 Khan elaborated.