Lalmonirhat's first commercial dragon fruit grower Abu Taleb hopes to make around Tk 15 lakh in profit this year.
Inspired by YouTube, Abu Taleb started his dragon fruit orchard in 2019, when he was working at a private firm. He invested Tk 5 lakh on the orchard, on 65 decimals of land that he owns at his home village of Kumrihat in Aditmari Upazila. The trees started to bear fruits in only eight months and now each tree produces 12 to 15 kilograms of the fruit. Out of the first harvest, he sold only Tk 10 thousand worth of dragon fruit and he gave away the rest, worth about Tk 70 thousand, to his relatives and neighbors.
“I hope to harvest Tk 14 to 15 lakh worth of dragon fruit from the orchard this year,” said Abu Taleb. When the demand is good, each kg of the fruit can be sold for Tk 200 to 250, he said. “Even if I sell dragon fruit from my garden for Tk 50 per kg, I can still make a profit. Initially, due to my lack of experience, I spent the extra money to prepare my garden. But now I have gained enough knowledge to cultivate the fruit properly.”
Aside from growing fruits, Abu Taleb also grows saplings of dragon fruit. So far, he grew 2,800 saplings and he is currently making preparations to produce over 10 thousand more. He has been selling each sapling for Tk 50. Local farmer Mohammad Abdullah bought 100 dragon fruit saplings from Abu Taleb in January. Abdullah said Abu Taleb also explained him good techniques to cultivate the fruit. If he finds success during the trial, he will also start cultivating dragon fruit on a large scale like Abu Taleb, he also said.
Jobed Ali, an educated youth from the same village, said he became interested in dragon fruit farming after seeing Abu Taleb's success. He already bought 150 saplings of the fruit and he was getting prepared to plant more. “There's a huge demand for dragon fruit at the market. If the production of the fruit is as expected, it can bring expected profits,” he said. Abu Taleb said regular and proper care of dragon fruit can produce expected results and only organic fertilizer should be used in its production.
“I leased 100 decimals of land, next to my garden, where I will plant 5,000 dragon fruit saplings this year. Once the garden is ready, it will be possible for me to earn an income for the next 20 years.” I dream of standing by the educated and unemployed population in Lalmonirhat by getting them involved in dragon fruit farming,” he added. Shamim Ashraf, deputy director of the Department of Agricultural Extension in Lalmonirhat, said proper and timely care is essential for the cultivation of dragon fruit that grows only on higher ground. Although many farmers are interested in cultivating dragon fruit, they are unable to do so because a huge amount of investment is necessary for its cultivation, he added.