In the recent years many farmers have turned to cultivating foreign fruits in Bangladesh due to favourable weather and soil texture.
Farmers are said to prefer cultivating mostly fruits from Thailand where the weather is almost similar. Fruits like dragon, baromasi, mango, strawberry and Malta are popular.
Besides, Thai guava, malta, orange, papaya, strawberry, , melon, rambutan are also very popular which the farmers said have commercial values in the country. The farmers said that they have captured up to 20 percent of the market by competing with imported fruits due to their good taste and local yield.
So popular, that in the recent months many small entrepreneurs have been trying cultivating persimmon, star fruit, gluten-free red jackfruit, date and Shareefa, all imported from Thailand.
These fruits are available round the year by combining import and production in the country. Prices are also within the reach of the people. The agronomists said that it will be possible to market these in four-five years.
Dr Md Ashraful Islam, head of Department of Horticulture of Bangladesh Agriculture University told Bangladesh Post, “If we look back a few years, no one knew about dragon fruit in our country. But now it’s being widely cultivated in our country which certainly reduce import dependency. Another advantage is some of these foreign fruits are off season fruits, which actually encourages farmers to cultivate them.”
“People are now too much concerned about nutrition on the other hand as most of these foreign fruits have commercial potentials. Their demand both for nutrition and commercial production is increasing rapidly,” Ashraful added.
According to sources, fruit demand now can be met in any season (off season). For example, mangoes and dragons are being cultivated in winter. Malta is now being cultivated round the year. katimon mango is now being cultivated in the villages which is available in winter.
In the next 5 years, it is expected that the country will be able to meet the nutritional needs by producing various varieties of foreign fruits throughout the year.
Bangladesh Fresh fruits Importers Association (BFFIA) president Salimul Haque Essa told Bangladesh Post, “Many foreign fruits which once we used to import in the country, are now widely cultivating in the country and reduce import demand. As local market grew for foreign fruits, gradually their cultivation is also gaining popularity.”
According to the Agriculture Ministry information, a decade ago about 56 varieties of fruits were cultivated in the country which now stand at 72. Research is underway to increase the number to 84.
Meanwhile, many people are being encouraged to cultivate flowers and fruits due to various incentives and banking loans provided by the government to the farmers. Various foreign varieties of fruits are being cultivated in the country which was unimaginable at one time.
According to the Department of Agricultural Extension, the production of fruits has increased by more than 20 lakh metric tons in the fiscal year 2019-20. In the financial year 2008-09, 1.341 crore metric tons of fruits were produced in 9.35917 lakh hectares of land. Until now fruit production has increased in all other financial years except in 2013-14.
Dr Md Mehedi Masud director of Nutrition Development Project Round the Year through Fruit Production Project said, “Fruit cultivation is increasing in the country as farmers are benefiting from year-round fruit cultivation and fruit production. Now the purchasing power of the people has increased. Yield is also increasing through introducing new varieties of the fruits.”
Reviewing the import accounts, it is seen that the people of the country are eating on an average of 1688000 kg of foreign fruits every day. Fruits are being sold at a retail price of around Tk 27 crore every day.
Bangladesh topped in the list of first 10 countries in the total production of four important fruits in the world. Bangladesh ranks second in the world in jackfruit production, seventh in mango, eighth in guava production and fourteenth in papaya production. And the country is currently rank tenth in seasonal fruit production.