Observing that the cultivation of unconventional crops like almonds, coffee and Black pepper can change the economic picture of the hilly areas, agriculture minister Md Abdur Razzaque on Saturday emphasised cultivating the unusual cash crops to make agriculture sector profitable one.
‘The government under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is now working relentlessly for commercialising and making the agriculture sector profitable one since the country has achieved self- sufficiency in food. But it needs cultivating unconventional cash crops, including almonds, coffee and black pepper,’ he said.
The minister came up with the remarks after visiting different gardens, including almond and coffee and mango orchard, at Ruma upazila in Bandarban district, said a press release.
Noting that there is a huge demand for these crops not only in the country, but also in the international markets, Razzaque said the price of these crops is also high.
There is a lot of potential to cultivate these crops in the hill areas, he said con and processing of such unconventional crops should be increased.
‘We are working to innovate improved varieties and technologies of almonds and coffee and to spread the cultivation of these crops widely. If it can be done, a revolution will take place in the economy of the Chattogram Hill Tracts,’ the minister said.
Mentioning that a project titled ‘Almonds and Coffee Research, Development and Extension’ has been taken involving Taka 211 crore to expand the almonds and coffee cultivation, Razzaque said, not only hilly areas, but suitable plain lands across the country also will be brought under almonds and coffee cultivation.
Around 156,000 saplings of almonds were distributed among farmers at free of cost in the last year, he said, adding more 300,000 saplings will be distributed this year.
Besides, tariff on importing raw almonds has been reduced to only five percent from 90 percent aiming at overcoming the problems of processing almonds and building processing institutions in the country, Razzaque said.
Chittagong Hill Tracts affairs minister Bir Bahadur Ushwe Sing, senior secretary of agriculture Md Mesbahul Islam and additional secretary Wahida Akter, Department of Agricultural Extension director general Md Asadullah, Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation chairman Amitavh Sarker, Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council executive chairman Shaikh Mohammad Bokhtiar, Bandarban deputy commissioner Yeasmin Pervin Tibriji and Superintendent of Police Jerin Akhter accompanied the minister during the visit.