The fruit is proving commercially viable for farmers
Dragon fruit, a special cactus species, is very popular in the US, Vietnam, Mexico, and other countries.
Due to its complex disease-prevention capabilities, medicinal properties, as well as abundance of vitamins and nutrients, cultivation of this foreign fruit is rapidly increasing in Bangladesh.
Due to its high market value on the local and foreign markets, farmers in Panchagarh are being driven towards Dragon fruit cultivation, which, unlike some crops, is commercially viable.
According to the Department of Agricultural Extension, dragon fruit orchards have been developed in different areas of the region. There are three types of dragon fruit crops – red, white, and yellow – that are being cultivated in the region.
Recently, a farmers’ rally was held in Nayadighi area of Sakua union, under Boda upazila, to motivate farmers to plant dragon fruit and establish dragon fruit orchards in the district.
Participating in the rally were: Deputy Director of Dinajpur Horticulture Center Pradip Kumar Guh, Boda upazila Nirbahi Officer Syed Hasan, Deputy Agriculture Officer of Panchagarh District Agriculture Extension Department Shamsul Haque, Boda upazila Agriculture Officer Al Mamunur Rashid, and the Dragon fruit farmers Abu Ansar Md Rezaul Karim Shamim and Ismail Hossain.
At the end of the rally a farmer named Rashed Pradhan planted dragon fruit seeds on two acres of land.
In the past, farmers planted dragon fruit just as an experiment or as a hobby. However, now with low production costs and favourable weather, farmers are commercially producing dragon fruit. This has enabled them to have a better profit margin than other crops. The success of small dragon fruit orchards has played an important role in motivating other local farmers to take up dragon fruit cultivation. Each kilogram of dragon fruit is being sold for Tk300 to Tk500.
Due to the nature of the plant, it is necessary to tie the fruit tree to poles or pillars. Within one to one and a half years of planting, fruit grows on the plant. After performing their domestic chores local women work in the area’s dragon fruit orchards. This is an extra source of income which helps to develop the economic conditions of Panchagarh district.
Farmers find the investment pays off
Md Rashed Pradhan, a farmer from Nayadighi area of the district said: “I planted dragon fruit seed on 2.4 acres of land. I invested almost Tk15 lakh. Though it is expensive initially, once the tree grows, dragon fruit can be produced twice or thrice a year, for 30-40 years, consecutively— and one can actually start profiting from it. I am the first person to have started dragon fruit cultivation in Panchagar.”
Dragon fruit farmer Ismail Hossain said: “I learned about its dynamic qualities from YouTube. People in our country rely too much on antibiotics, thus this fruit, which has so many medicinal qualities, is like a blessing. I have spent Tk5 lakh in two installments. In the first year, I sold Tk3 lakh’s-worth of dragon fruit. I hope I will be able to sell Tk5 lakh’s-worth this year. As dragon fruit do not grow during the winter season, one has six months for cultivation. More than 3.6 acres of land have been re-gardened. Traders from: Panchagarh, Thakurgaon, Nilphamari, Dinajpur, Rangpur, Sylhet, and Chittagong buy dragon fruit from us.
“Every kilogram of dragon fruit is sold from Tk300-Tk500. At present, one fruit weighs between 200 and 300 grams. It is possible to produce dragon fruit weighing up to 1kg, from a Pyangan tree, after about four to five years. It is possible to earn more than Tk2 lakh per year on half an acre of land. The profit margin goes up every year. If the government supports the farmers by providing loans and incentives then more farmers will have the chance to cultivate dragon fruit.” He added.
Boda upazila Agriculture Officer Al Mamun Ur Rashid said now the farmers of Panchagarh are not solely dependent on traditional crops and they are interested in producing profitable agricultural products meeting market demand. In order to increase dragon fruit production in Panchagarh more training and supervision is necessary. All the essential agricultural equipment and advance seeds are a must for dragon fruit cultivation to blossom in this region.