Strawberry cultivation boon for Rajshahi farmers

Many people including some amateur ones have become solvent through strawberry farming as its commercial farming has started gaining popularity in Rajshahi region during the last couple of years, reports BSS.

Strawberry, a succulent fruit popular in different parts of the globe, is also gradually becoming popular among the local people. Farmers’ level extension of strawberry farming can bring a new horizon to the agriculture sector in the region. “Strawberry cultivation is as easy as growing potato or eggplant. Saplings can be planted in rows during the period between November and December every year,” said Prof Dr AKM Rafiul Islam of Department of Botany of Rajshahi University.

Illustrating salient feature of strawberry, a high-value cash crop, he said the plants start flowering within one month of plantation and fruits can be collected till March.

“Each plant bears around 250 to 300 grams of fruit and some 6,000 plants can be grown on one bigha of land,” Dr Islam said, adding with farmer-level price of around Taka 600 per kg, the commercially potential fruit will have a bigger market locally and globally and benefit farmers enormously. Now, a large number of people, mostly unemployed youths, have become dependent on strawberry farming to earn a living, as its cultivation is easier and more profitable than other crops, he said.

The youths are supplying strawberry to different markets across the country as the soft fruit is being used in preparing ice-cream, jam, jelly, pickles, chocolates and biscuits. Prof Dr Manzur Hossain, who is pioneer in the country’s strawberry research, variety innovation and growers’ level farming expansion, said Bangladeshi strawberry variety has been adjudged as the world’s best strawberry.

“We have innovated three varieties of strawberry through applying tissue culture method,” he said. “In the demonstration field, all those were found adaptive to the region’s soil and environmental conditions,” Prof Dr Hossain, another teacher of Botany, added. He has been multiplying the variety on his own horticulture farm for the last couple of years. The new variety of strawberry can be harvested within two and a half months of its plantation and a farmer can earn around Taka 1.5 lakh by farming it on one bigha of land with expenditure of only Taka 30,000, he said.

With farmer-level price of around Taka 300 per kg, the commercially potential fruit will have a bigger market locally and benefit farmers enormously, the pioneer said while talking to BSS. In 2003, three varieties yielded encouraging results and were found suitable in local climate.

Strawberry farming is already in motion in many districts under the region. With the average price of a kilogram of the fruit standing at Taka 700, the commercially viable fruit presents great export potentials and ushers in economic prospects for those who wish to get high and fast returns from limited land resources.