Orange prospects bright

http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=209429

Districts in Focus
Orange prospects bright

Agriculturists suggest the government pay attention to farming of the fruit A man sells oranges at a local market in Sylhet. Photo: STAR

Iqbal Siddiquee, Sylhet

Orange farming has changed the socioeconomic conditions of people in Sylhet and Moulvibazar, said agriculturists.

The region was once known countrywide for the juicy fruit, but many growers left the sector due to lack of help from the government.

The government took an initiative in 2000-01 and set up some 13,000 orchards on selected farmers’ land in the region, said AKM Rafiqul Islam, additional director of Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) in Sylhet.

Everything was done under a special programme, “Coordinated project for orange and pineapple farming improvement in greater Sylhet”, Islam added.

In addition to providing saplings and training, the government extended some other necessary assistance for setting those orchards on the hillock type places attached to the farmers’ homesteads.

Three upazilas from each of four districts were taken up under the three-year programme, which was extended for another four years until 2007-08.

Seven hundred block demonstration plots of half hectares each were also prepared in those upazilas. Around 315 plants were sown on each plot. In case of small areas, 10 saplings were sown in each of the hillock-type places attached to farmers’ houses.

A new and expanded programme could boost orange farming in the region as the growers are getting good prices for their produce now, Islam added.

The farmers have also become more conscious and sincere about the procedure for pricing and marketing of the fruits, he said.

Many farmers, who left the sector years ago for losses, are coming back to the business with commercial farming.

The government initiative has met with huge success in the last few years, said Md Saiful Islam, deputy director of DAE, Sylhet.

Locals want more such initiatives from the government to help the business grow.

Commercial orange farming has bright prospects in Sylhet as the soil and weather of the region is favourable to the fruit, he added.

“We should provide quality saplings, training and technology to the farmers. And the marketing also needs a boost.”

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