The Barind region is famous across the country for its mango production, but its commercial farming of oranges has also been a great success.
Matiur Rahman, a farmer from Chapainawabganj, has revolutionised orange farming in the area. Also, he is the only farmer in Rajshahi region – which has a warm climate – who sells oranges commercially in the area.
Alongside orange production, he produces orange saplings from mother plants and sells them across the country.
Currently, Matiur Rahman has around 550 orange trees in his "Monamina Krishi Khamar," in Jamtala area of Chapainawabganj. He planted Australian, American Mandarin and Chinese varieties of orange trees on his farm in 2016.
After planting them, the oranges matured in 2019, and he sold oranges worth Tk2 lakh that year. He expects to sell oranges worth at least Tk5 lakh this year.
A recent visit to his farm found that plenty of oranges were growing. And people from different walks of life, including the top agricultural officials of the district, were visiting his garden every day.
Once the fruits mature, many of the people buy oranges from the farm at Tk150-200 per kilogramme.
Apart from producing oranges, Matiur has produced 30,000 orange saplings from the mother plants this year.
He said, "My goal is to produce and sell one lakh orange saplings next year. Depending on their size, orange saplings are sold at Tk80-150 per piece. Farmers from across the country buy orange saplings from my farm."
He also expects to sell orange saplings worth around Tk30 lakh this year.
Saying that he has been farming six varieties of oranges brought in from abroad this year, he said, "This time I have lots of oranges. So I can say that my initial experiment has become successful. I expect to produce a huge quantity of oranges and then export them after meeting local demand."
Md Sarfuddin, senior scientific officer at Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) said, "Although oranges are not a native fruit, they can be cultivated anywhere in the Bangladeshi climate."
"Among several types of oranges grown in Bangladesh, two types of them are more frequently cultivated. They are Bari Kamala 2 and Bari Kamala 3," said the BARI official.
He continued, "Small oranges weighing up to 70 grams are called Bari Kamala 2, and large oranges weighing up to 160 grams are called Bari Kamala 3. The Agricultural Research Institute has also developed cultivation methods for these oranges, which have been published in booklets and leaflets."
He highlighted that orange cultivation requires extensive care, and high temperatures may damage the plants.
It was also found that Matiur was successful in farming other fruits including malta, guava and mango.
His five gardens on more than 11 hectares of land have 66 tree species, including fruit, forest and herbal ones. He owns 2.4 hectares of the land and leases the rest.
Monamina Krishi Khamar has around 3,500 malta trees, 3,500 guava trees and 2,000 mango trees of different species. Matiur also cultivates other fruit varieties but grows oranges, maltas, guavas and mangoes commercially.
According to Matiur, he sells guava and mango worth Tk30 lakh and malta worth Tk15 lakh every year. Besides, he produces and sells around one lakh saplings including orange saplings from his nursery every year.
He sells malta saplings at Tk80-120 per piece. Every year, he sells saplings from his nursery worth Tk80 lakh, and his net profit from the sales is around Tk20 lakh.
In other terms, annually he sells: oranges worth Tk5 lakh, malta worth Tk15 lakh, guava and mango worth Tk30 lakh, and saplings worth Tk80 lakh. The estimated sum of his sales of fruit and saplings is around Tk1.30 crore.
"I have employed 25 people to tend to the farm. My wife, highly-educated son, daughter and son's wife also help me with the farming. After completing his BSc Engineering, my son did not pursue a job. Instead, he started to work with me as an agricultural entrepreneur," said Matiur.
Mentioning that he started orchards in 2000 with a lease of more than one hectare of land, he said, "In 2006, I leased 2.4 hectares of land in Jamtala and established Monamina Krishi Khamar. I have been selling saplings on this farm since 2014 in line with producing fruit."
"The name of the farm is coined from the initials of the names of my family members," he added.
Matiur has received numerous local awards, including the Prime Minister's National Award which he got in 2015 for his contribution to tree planting on the individual level.
Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council Chief Scientific Officer (Soils) Md Bakhtiyar Hossain said, Matiur Rahman is farming according to a scientific method.
"Due to the scientific cultivation, he has been able to successfully cultivate oranges and malta in Barind. Moreover, using solar energy, he sprays water only at the base of the tree," he said.