FT Online

Published:
2019-12-25 15:31:33 BdST

Malta farming helps Boalkhali youth turn around his fortunes


A young man of Boalkhali upazila in the district has turned around his fortunes by cultivating Malta on Jaisthapura hill in Amuchia area.
 
Alongside sweet Malta, Lokman Azad, 30, is also farming China orange, Thai mango, dragon fruit, date and other fruits on his 90 decimals of land on the hill.
 
His initiative has encouraged many youths of the area to become self-employed by farming.


 
Lokman said he had an interest in botany from his childhood. In school life, he planted fruit trees on his house yard.
 
He said he could not continue education after completion of his Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) examination.
 
But without sitting idle, he said, he set up a poultry farm to earn his livelihood and later went for the Malta cultivation.
 
He bought a 90-decimal land in the hilly area and also started a dairy farm and cultivation of Malta, lemon and other fruits, he said.
 
He said the upazila agriculture officer suggested to him that as Malta is a lemon-type fruit and the land of the area is suitable for cultivating this type of fruit, he could benefit from Malta cultivation. Following his suggestion, Lokman started Malta farming in June 2017.

“First I planted 400 Malta trees. Seeing the prospect of profit, I also planted another 100 trees. I bought each grafting tree at Tk 120 from Hathazari’s Foteyabad Nursery. I’ve invested a total of Tk 20 lakh here. At present, the age of each tree is 3 years. I started selling Malta from the third year though I started getting fruit from the second year. There were 100-200 Maltas from each tree though I was supposed to get 500 from each,” Lokman said.
 
“In the first year, I got 5 percent fruits, 40 percent in the second year and 50 percent in the third year (running year). I expect, there’ll be 100 percent production next year. Now, I seek government help so that I can cultivate Malta on a larger scale which will help the demand of the fruit across the country,” he added.

Several orchard owners of the area said the cultivated Malta of the area is sweet and juicy. For that the demand among the fruit sellers has increased. Malta from the area is being sold in different markets across the country.
 
Lokman’s initiative has already encouraged many youths in the area to follow suit, said locals.
 
Atik Ullah, Boalkhali upazila agriculture officer, told UNB that several farmers are cultivating Malta in the upazila for the last 2-3 years. Among them, Lokman has been popular in the area for Malta cultivation.
 
“From the agriculture office, we always try to cooperate with the farmers. From the office, there was also an initiative for training on Malta farming. Besides, saplings of Malta have been provided among farmers,” he said.
 
With a target of cultivating 1800kg of Malta, Lokman Azad was able to produce 1600kg of Malta last season. In the current season, the output is most likely to exceed the target.
 
Atik Ullah said they have a plan to help the fruit farmers transport and market their produces easily.
 
Besides, he said, the Agriculture Department will help them get the fair prices of Malta.

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