2006-07-30 18:51:52 UTC
Sweet Saudi dates now in Motaleb's orchard
Aminul Islam, Mymensingh
Motaleb waits anxiously for the auspicious day to pluck Saudi dates
from trees planted on his yard. The day is not more than a month away when
the Ramadan begins, he says.
Young Motaleb Hossain had returned from Saudi Arabia in 2001 with a
dashed hope. But the date seeds he brought from the desert and planted in
his village have raised hopes.
He has created a date garden on 70 decimal land in Para Goan village
in Bhaluka upazila. There are 162 date trees in the orchard he lovingly
named Mofazzol Saudia Date Garden after his son.
Ten of the plants are now bent with bunches of Saudi date and four
more and at flowering stage. The dates are maturing and could be plucked in
about a month, he told this correspondent during a visit to the garden. More
about 100 trees will bear fruit next year, he hopes.
Motaleb said he first sowed 265 seeds in a seed bed and then
transplanted the seedlings in the garden. Out of the 265 saplings, 103
withered away due to unfavourable weather condition and lack of proper
knowledge of nursing.
There are three varieties of Saudia date in his garden. They are Azua
(large size), Bakri (small size) and Sukkaria (long size).
Seeing the bunches, he estimates that one tree will bear eight to ten
kilograms of fruit which could be sold at between Tk 20 and 25 per kilogram.
Like indigenous date trees in Bangladesh, juice can be extracted from
the Saudia variety trees also, he said. But like in Saudi Arabia, he does
not extract juice as it decreases the quantity and quality of dates, he
Motaleb said a farmer can earn Tk 4000 to 5000 from 10 decimal land
per year and this is more profitable than cultivation of any other
traditional crop. Nursing the garden is easy, done at an interval of two to
three months and the cost is negligible.
An interesting feature of the trees is that shoots grow from their
roots, which grow into saplings. This correspondent saw several saplings
have grown from roots of each tree. Motaleb said these saplings can be
planted in new gardens or sold at Tk 10 to 15 apiece.
Motaleb has extended his garden to 90 decimals to transplant the new
Motaleb was enthused when State Minister for Civil Aviation and
Tourism Mirza Fakrul Islam Alamgir and BNP Senior Joint Secretary Tarique
Rahman along with high officials of Agriculture Department visited his
garden in 2004. His garden was also shown on some TV channels on various
occasions, he said.
Vice-Chancellor of Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU) Prof Dr
Mohammed Amirul Islam and Shaikh Siraj, a development journalist and
director (news) of Channel-i also visited the garden.
Motaleb studied up to class eight. He flew to Saudi Arabia in 1998 to
hunt fortune. He worked there in a date garden.
"While working in garden there I thought land of our country is more
fertile than that of Saudia Arabia and this date would grow better in
Bangladesh", Motaleb said.
"While returning home, I brought only 35 kilograms of date".
Now Motaleb along with his wife Majida Khatun nurse the garden.
Initially officials of Agriculture Extention Department (AED) did not
believe that Saudi dates can be grown in Bangladesh. Now they come and visit
my garden, he said.
Motaleb showing journalist Shaikh Siraj the Saudi dates produced in
his orchard in Bhaluka in Mymensingh district. PHOTO: STAR