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Farmers inspired by single success in Barguna




Former expat Habibur Rahman Matubbar, a resident of Kewabunya village under Amtali Upazila in Barguna, has been enjoying great success in cultivating malta on his 15 bighas of land for the past seven years or so.

Matubbar, who lived in Saudi Arabia for almost 20 years, pondered how he could make an income after returning to Bangladesh in 2015 and this led him to the success story of another malta farmer that was posted on YouTube.

Inspired to try his hand at growing the fruit, Matubbar developed 15 bighas of land near his house with the assistance of CM Rezaul Karim, the Upazila agriculture officer.

Having planted a total of 5,000 saplings, the orchard produced Tk 1 lakh worth of malta within a year.

Matubbar says his garden, where he grows other crops as well, earned him at least Tk 12 lakh over the past four years.

Apart from malta, which is a type of orange, he also grows mangoes, lemons, bananas, papayas and litchi to earn roughly Tk 3-4 lakh each year.

In addition, there are two ponds that have a radius of three bighas each that Matubbar uses to cultivate various types of fish, which earn him another Tk 3-4 lakh annually.

However, he insists that malta remains his biggest earner with yields increasing every year.

Matubbar is now well renowned for his success as a self-sufficient farmer with neighbors and locals from near and far coming to consult him for agricultural work.

Many people are even trying to imitate his success by growing various fruit, including malta, papaya, guava and banana in their backyards to meet their own food needs and earn an extra income.

“In just five years since my time abroad, I have become a successful malta farmer who earns lakhs of taka each year,” Matubbar said.

“Besides, I am now the ideal farmer as I cultivate different varieties of fruits and fish as well. I am proud of this work,” he added.

The former expat went on to say that his malta usually sells for between Tk 200 and Tk 250 per kilogram.

Harun Or Rashid, a neighbor of Matubbar, said many people in the area are now cultivating malta and other fruits.

Upazila Agricultural Officer Karim and other agriculture officials often visit Matubbar’s farm, which has helped bring a source of nourishment to people in the region.

Due to his success, many farmers from Kewabunya village and its surrounding areas are cultivating different varieties of fruits in what were once paddy fields.

Md Badrul Alam, additional deputy director of the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) in Barguna, said malta is a profitable agricultural product.

“Due to its good demand and price across the country, farmers are increasingly turning to malta cultivation. In Barguna, 20 hectares of land has been cultivated this year and the acreage grows annually,” he added.

Malta production across the country doubled between fiscal 2018-19 and fiscal 2020-21. Farmers bagged 7,000 tonnes of the fruit in fiscal 2020-21, up from 3,000 tonnes the previous year. The total acreage under malta cultivation grew more than four times to 13,000 acres at the same time, according to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics.


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Agri Biz

Govt Plans 10% Annual Growth in Agriculture by 2025-26




The Bangladesh government has allocated Tk 385 billion for agricultural development over the next three years, aiming for an average annual growth of 10% in the sector by the 2025-26 fiscal year. This investment underscores agriculture’s crucial role in ensuring food security and driving equitable economic growth, according to the ‘Medium Term Macroeconomic Policy Statement (2023-24 to 2025-26)’.

Despite its declining share in GDP, agriculture remains vital for the livelihoods of the majority, especially in rural areas. To enhance food production and resilience against challenges, the government’s strategy includes developing high-yield and adversity-tolerant crop varieties, expanding mechanization and irrigation, and improving access to affordable inputs such as seeds and fertilizers.

The policy document highlights various initiatives aimed at modernizing agriculture through technology. These include prioritizing surface water over groundwater for irrigation to conserve resources, integrating renewable energy solutions, and utilizing remote sensing for crop monitoring.

The government continues to support the sector through subsidies, financial incentives, and technological innovations to establish a sustainable and self-reliant agricultural framework.

The fisheries and livestock sub-sectors also make significant contributions, accounting for 2.53% and 1.91% of GDP, respectively, while providing essential protein sources and livelihoods for over 12% of the population. Achievements in these areas include achieving self-sufficiency in fish, meat, and egg production, with milk production expected to follow suit. Moreover, these sectors play a crucial role in foreign exchange earnings through exports.

Looking ahead, the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries plans to launch development projects to enhance production capacities, adopt advanced management technologies, and improve conservation efforts, particularly for young hilsa fish (‘jatka’).

Water resource management is another focal point, given its importance for sustainable agriculture. Initiatives are underway to improve surface water availability by excavating water bodies and enhancing coastal afforestation to secure equitable water shares from transboundary rivers.

With climate change posing significant economic risks, projected to reduce GDP by 6.8% by 2030, the government has prioritized comprehensive strategies to mitigate these impacts. The Mujib Climate Prosperity Plan aims to equip vulnerable sectors and communities with tools to enhance resilience and stability against climate-related disruptions.

Through these multifaceted efforts, Bangladesh is taking decisive steps to safeguard and advance its agricultural heritage amidst evolving global challenges.

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Agri Biz

IFC Invests $30mn in PRAN to Bolster Bangladesh’s Food Industry




The International Finance Corporation (IFC) is investing US$30 million in Pran Dairy Limited (PDL) and Habiganj Agro Limited (HAL), both part of the PRAN Group, a leading player in the food and beverage industry (F&B) in Bangladesh. This investment aims to support severely impacted businesses, particularly those reliant on imports for raw materials. The goal is to enhance the resilience of the food processing market, create jobs, foster gender diversity, and strengthen the economy.

This marks the first time IFC’s USD term loans will be utilized for working capital purposes in Bangladesh. These funds will enable PDL and HAL to sustain their operations, increase exports, and preserve over 30,000 jobs, as stated in a press release today. Additionally, IFC will assist PRAN Group in enhancing women’s participation and inclusion in the workplace through relevant policies and practices. The F&B sector plays a crucial role in Bangladesh’s economy, accounting for about 13 percent of manufacturing production value and employing 19 percent of the industrial manufacturing workforce, with a projected compound annual growth rate of 12 percent.

However, challenges such as foreign exchange shortages, high energy prices, and power shortages have disrupted the import of raw materials and constrained local commercial banks’ lending capacity. In response, IFC’s longer-term US dollar financing aims to improve access to foreign exchange, helping Bangladeshi companies navigate the crisis.

Uzma Chowdhury, director (Finance) of PRAN-RFL Group, emphasized the importance of regular access to US dollars for a net importer like PRAN Group. Given the current shortage, accessing USD funds for working capital has been challenging. IFC’s provision of scarcely available US dollar working capital will ensure the long-term stability of the company’s operations and contribute to the country’s economic stability.

As part of its advisory services, IFC will also support PRAN Group in developing the company’s smallholder sourcing supply chain in Bangladesh and identifying opportunities to decarbonize its agro-processing operations, among other initiatives.

Martin Holtmann, IFC country manager for Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal, reiterated IFC’s commitment to supporting clients during crises. He stated that IFC’s financing aims to alleviate the lack of access to foreign exchange while promoting private sector growth in Bangladesh. This investment is expected to enhance food security, prioritize support for strategically important industries, diversify Bangladesh’s export base, create jobs, expand market opportunities, and enhance economic resilience.

Since 2010, IFC has invested over US$3.8 billion to help the private sector grow in Bangladesh.

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Agri Biz

Mango Season Signals Prosperous Harvest in Rajshahi & Chapainawabganj




The mango formation process is progressing smoothly in Rajshahi and Chapainawabganj districts, signaling the imminent arrival of the beloved juicy fruit within the next couple of months, thanks to favorable climatic conditions.

Fruit setting is advancing well, with many mango trees already displaying visually appealing appearances in orchards, gardens, and homestead areas.

The Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) reports abundant buds in the new mango orchards of Naogaon this year, although fewer buds have appeared on the larger trees in Rajshahi and Chapainawabganj. Mango cultivation spans across 93 thousand hectares of land in Naogaon, Rajshahi, and Chapainawabganj.

According to DAE Additional Director Mahmudul Faruque, over 50 percent of the buds have transitioned into pods in the region. In Rajshahi, 65 percent of mango buds are currently pea-sized, while 35 percent are marble-sized.

Dr. Shafiqul Islam, principal scientific officer of the Fruit Research Station, attributes the reduced bud count this year to last year’s bumper crop, resulting in less food storage in the trees. However, this decline in production is expected to yield larger mangoes of superior quality.

He notes a delayed appearance of buds on trees due to an extended winter, with buds emerging later than usual, primarily in late February.

An irregular distribution of buds is also observed, with some trees exhibiting full coverage while neighboring trees remain bare, with only new leaves emerging. This pattern extends to individual trees, where one branch may be adorned with buds while others remain barren.

Mango grower Shafiqul Islam Sana expresses disappointment as fewer buds have appeared on trees compared to last year, attributing some bud loss to hailstorms. Despite this setback, he remains hopeful for a fruitful harvest.

Upazila Agriculture Officer Shafiullah Sultan highlights the potential for better quality mangoes if at least 20 percent of the pea-sized pods survive, emphasizing the importance of proper orchard care and pest control.

Similar conditions are reported in Charghat upazila, where farmers observe leaves but few mango pods on their trees. Despite challenges, proactive measures such as pesticide spraying are being undertaken to ensure successful mango production.

With a proactive approach, mango grower Abdur Razzak is diligently caring for his trees, noting pod appearances on a significant portion of his orchard.

Yadul Islam, who rents mango trees within the field of Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, reports good bud formation this year, expressing optimism about meeting mango production targets with proper care and management despite natural challenges.

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