At his nursery in Cumilla, Shamsul Alam conducted extensive research on cultivating mango, jackfruit, and fig trees thousands of miles away in the arid landscapes of the Gulf region.
His relentless efforts were not in vain; today, the fruits of his labour are ripening.
Shamsul has fast become a source of inspiration for fellow Bangladeshi farmers who are eager to emulate his success, reports the Arab News.
According to the report, Shamsul began to export fruit saplings to Qatar in 2019, and soon expanded his reach to the UAE and Oman.
"Since 2019, I have exported around 150,000 saplings from Bangladesh to the UAE, Qatar, and Oman," he told Arab News.
"All these plants are grown now and offer the taste of Bangladeshi fruits to Arabs. Bangladeshi fruit orchards can now be seen in those countries."
By different accouts, Shamsul tapped into the market at the right moment, as afforestation programmes have been gaining traction in Gulf countries in recent years.
He is focusing on mango trees this year and has already cultivated some varieties at his Green World Nursery.
"After Dubai ordered some Bangladeshi mango saplings from me, I prepared 400 mango saplings with seven varieties of Bangladeshi mangoes," he told the Arab News.
"These plants are ready now and I hope to make the shipment in October."
For Bangladeshi growers, such a venture holds significant potential. While it costs them approximately $2 to nurture a tree sapling in Bangladeshi nurseries, they are able to sell these saplings in the Gulf market at a price nearly four times higher.
Dr Reza Khan, principal wildlife specialist at Dubai Safari Park, who ordered the saplings from Shamsul, told Arab News that those will be planted in the Dubai desert as part of an "experimental" initiative.
"If rice can be grown in the desert, I hope that with proper care mangoes could be cultivated here as well," he said.
According to data from the Bangladeshi government, Qatar has been the largest export destination for Bangladeshi fruit saplings, but the UAE is rapidly gaining ground.
"The UAE is a big potential... Especially saplings of mangoes are very popular," said Kamrul Hasan, commercial counsellor at the Bangladesh Consulate General in Dubai.
He believes that the UAE could become a hub for Bangladeshi sapling trade, as exporters have already scored phytosanitary certificates and environmental clearances.
"We have been exporting saplings in larger volumes for the last four-five years," Kamrul told Arab News. "A lot of nurseries in Bangladesh are involved in this sapling business and they are very efficient in their work, supplying quality saplings to Middle Eastern countries."
Mohammad Khadim, who has been exporting saplings to the UAE since last year, said the main competitors for Bangladesh in sapling export are Pakistan and India, which have easier access to the Gulf.
"For us, it takes around one month to reach the ports in Gulf countries while our competitors require only one week," he said.
But such issues do not discourage him and he already plans to expand business to Saudi Arabia, which targets the planting of 50 billion trees across the whole region under the Middle East Green Initiative.
"I am in discussion with some Saudi Arabian buyers," Khadim said. "I hope to get positive results soon."