The government has put the highest importance on promoting the cultivation of coffee, cashew nuts, and dragon fruits in the hilly areas of the Chattogram division sensing the potential of such cash crops.
Agriculture Minister Dr. Muhammad Abdur Razzaque said, "Farmers of Chattogram, Rangamati, Bandarban and Khagrachari districts will be given all necessary supports to produce coffee, cashew nuts and dragon fruits aiming to boost export in future."
The minister made the comments at a views-exchange meeting organized by the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), Chattogram, at its training centre, aiming to discuss problems and prospects of the farming condition in the four hilly districts.
He said the crops had a great potential in the hilly regions since the cultivation of those could help farmers largely to improve their socio-economic conditions, according to an agriculture ministry press release issued on Friday evening.
Dr. Razzaque directed the field-level agricultural officials to diversify farming in the region and to make agriculture more profitable. Officials need to be more sincere and proactive when it comes to creating awareness about integrated farming, he said.
He added, "In this way, we could provide safe and nutrition-rich food to the people." Director of DAE Field Service Wing AKM Monirul Alam, director of its Horticulture Wing Md Wahiduzzaman, additional director Md Manjurul Huda, DAE Rangamati Region additional director Paban Kumar Chakma, also spoke, among others.
At the meeting, the DAE regional officials of the districts highlighted the current condition of agriculture, problems, and prospects in their respective areas. Dr Razzaque said a project had been taken to dig 725 kilometres of canals for boosting farm production further in the Chattogram division.
Besides, a project worth Tk 2.11 billion has also been taken to modernize and to diversify the agriculture of the country. The agriculture officials have to work hard to ensure that marginal farmers enjoy the benefits of these projects, the minister said.
Cashews are a highly nutritious and valued industrial crop all over the world. Therefore, the government has taken initiatives to expand the cultivation of cashew nuts and coffee in the hill tracts and some parts of northern districts. Export of cashew nuts and their derivatives has emerged as a lucrative mode of earning foreign currency. However, the associated local industry is currently limited to processing raw nuts imported from Vietnam, Cambodia, and India since just around 2,500 tonnes are expected to be harvested from the Chattogram hill tracts this year.
According to the DAE, the organization, jointly with the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI), has taken different projects in recent years to promote the cultivation of non-traditional cash crops in the country. DAE and BARI are putting the highest emphasis on the production of coffee, different kinds of nuts, dragon fruits, and other cash crops, it said.