Cultivation of malta has begun in Barind tract making the farmers happy Dhaka Tribune

There are malta orchards on 185 hectares of lands in Godagari, Tanore, Nachole and Gomostapur upazilas and Chapainawabganj Sadar, making the farmers happy and enthusiastic, said Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) sources

By dint of its lucrative market price and gradually mounting growers’ interest, cultivation of blood oranges (malta), a popular citrus fruit, has started gaining popularity in the Barind tract.

There are malta orchards on 185 hectares of lands in Godagari, Tanore, Nachole and Gomostapur upazilas and Chapainawabganj Sadar, making the farmers happy and enthusiastic, said Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) sources.

DAE officials encouraged farmers to cultivate malta as the climate and soil of the region are suitable for the fruit.

Alimul, a farmer of Tentulia village in Porsha upazila of Naogaon, has established a blood orange orchard through transplanting 1,560 saplings on seven bighas of land in 2018 first. He harvested fruit valued at around Tk2.5 lakh the following year and attained around Tk6 lakh last year.

He is expecting 55.6kg of fruit from each of the trees in the current year.

“I have established one more orchard on six bigha [1.5 hectare] of land this year,” he said.

Commercial cultivation of the citrus fruit has begun in many areas making the farmers happy and enthusiastic side by side with vibrating the local economic activities.

The farmers who cultivate blood oranges are now more interested in cultivating the fruit instead of many other fruits and vegetables. This year, this malta farming is expected to produce a huge harvest.

Cultivation of the fruit will bring a revolution in the local economy as hundreds of people from ultra-poor families have attained self-reliance by cultivating malta.

Upazila Agriculture Officer Mahfuz Alam said there was only one orchard in the upazila around five years back but the figure escalated to around 200 at present.

Three youths – Mukta Ali, Tofazzal Hossain, and Sultan Ahmed – have jointly developed a malta orchard by planting 300 saplings on three bigha (0.75 hectare) of land at Arani Khorda Baosha area under Bagha upazila in Rajshahi in 2017.

After nursing the field for around two years they sold fruit worth around Tk67,000 in 2019. They are hopeful to sell malta worth Tk4 lakh this year. They are now successful in their venture.

Aminul Islam along with four of his co-villagers has established an orchard on 45 bighas (11.25 hectares) of land commercially on partnership at Bottoly area under Godagari upazila in Rajshahi.

Currently, their business is successful, said Islam, adding malta is being sold at Tk100 to Tk120 per kg in local markets.

Upazila Agriculture Officer Shafiqul Islam said there is water crisis at Godagari as it is in the Barind region. So, the farmers in this region are getting interested in farming Malta as it takes less water to get good yield with a little care.

Malta is being cultivated on 90 bighas (22.5 hectares) of land in this upazila, said the agricultural officer.

Dr Alim Uddin, principal scientific officer of Fruit Research Station, said Barimalta1 is more drought tolerant and tasty than any other exotic variety.

Development Association for Self-reliance, Communication and Health (Dascoh) Foundation, a non-government organization, under its “Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) Project,” is extending technical and financial support to the farmers for boosting the malta production in the region as part of its effort to promote the less-water consuming crops in the drought-prone area.

Coordinator of the project, Jahangir Alam Khan said they provided financial support worth Tk31.17 lakh for installation of 17 submersible pumps with seven solar panels for ensuring irrigation facilities to around 200 bigha of malta farming fields in drip method.

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