PANCHAGARH, Nov 14: Farmers here are expecting bumper orange production this season following excellent output at the initial stage of harvest.
After repeated success in orange farming in recent years, the farmers are becoming interested in its commercial cultivation.
According to the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) sources, people started orange cultivation here on commercial basis in 2006 under a five-year-term Orange Development Project (ODP) to expand its farming. Under the project, 34,888 orange trees were planted in 223 orchards and 15,000 farmers were provided training on orange farming during the project term. Meanwhile, common people and farmers also planted more 1.56 lakh orange trees so far in the district.
A total of 100-tonne orange is expected to be produced in the district this year, and the production might cross 500 tonnes next year as more tender trees will be ready for producing the fruit.
Farmer Habib Pradhan of Bamonpara village under Sadar upazila said he has been selling orange since 2011 and around 400 mature trees in his orchard have given fruits this season.
"I sold orange at Tk 54,000 last year and am expecting to sell the same at over Tk 1 lakh this year as the production is increasing every year," he said.
College teacher Salah Uddin of Barobari village under Sadar upazila said, "I have set up an orange orchard some eight to nine years back on two acres of land. I have been selling orange for the last four consecutive years and sold the same worth Tk 50,000 last year. I hope to sell orange worth Tk 1 lakh this year."
According to Habib Pradhan and Salah Uddin, orange production increases slowly in the 5- to 15-year-old trees; remains steady in the 15- to 25-year-old trees; and start decreasing in the 25-to 50-year-old trees.
Farmers Achintya Kumar Barman of Sarderpara village and Bacchu Mian of Banipara village under Boda upazila, Jiten Chandra of Kaharapra village under Sadar upazila, Sajedur Rahman of Jugiakata village under Atwari upazila and Mokhlesur Rahman of Dangapara village under Tentulia upazila also narrated their successes in farming orange for the past seven to eight years.
They urged the government for re-launching the orange development project again to assist in expanding its cultivation through providing supports, including quality saplings, trainings and technologies, as provided till June 2011.
Abdul Matin, Sadar upazila agriculture officer (UAO), said orange growers can earn Tk 11,000 from 250 plants on one bigha of land during the first harvest and Tk 1 lakh from the fourth or fifth harvests for 25 years onwards and even up to 50 years. Orange farming on commercial basis has gained ground in the poverty-stricken Panchagarh district in recent years, the UAO added.
Currently, there are over 34,388 orange plants in 223 orange orchards set up on 100 hectares land and homesteads in four upazilas of Panchagarh. Besides, the concerned agriculture departments and organisations have planted 10,000 orange plants in the exhibition plots with a view to popularising its large-scale farming, officials said.
Deputy Director of the DAE SM Asraf Ali said the size, shape, colour and taste of the 'Khasia' variety of orange, which are extensively produced in Panchagarh, have similarity with those produced in India.
"Though some local people started orange farming as hobby on homesteads eight to ten years back, its cultivation has now expanded following excellent production during the following years predicting enormous prospect for its expanded cultivation on commercial basis," he said.
He said orange cultivation has brighter prospect in Panchagarh as the soil, topography and annual rainfalls here are favourable for its commercial cultivation.