Dhaka,  Saturday
02 March 2024

Empowering Agriculture

Asmat Ali’s inspirational journey of jujube farming

Staff Reporter

Published: 09:16, 12 February 2024

Asmat Ali’s inspirational journey of jujube farming

Photo : Messenger

Farmer Asmat Ali's journey to Feni was marked by adversity, as he lost everything to river erosion. Arriving in this unfamiliar district, he initially struggled to make ends meet, resorting to driving a rickshaw for survival. Despite his efforts, his ventures into vegetable cultivation yielded little success. However, with the intervention of the agriculture department, his fortunes took a turn for the better.

Today, Asmat Ali resides in the vicinity of East Faleshwar Ali Azzam Brick Kiln in Sadar Upazila, Feni, with his family comprising four sons and a daughter. Reflecting on his past, he recounted, "Upon relocating from Ramgati to Laxmipur, my initial attempts at vegetable farming proved futile. It was only three years ago, guided by the Agriculture Department, that we embarked on jujube cultivation." Initially starting with 40 acres of land and jujube seedlings from Rajshahi, Asmat Ali expanded his endeavours by acquiring an additional 20 acres and sourcing seedlings from Khulna.

Asmat Ali faced setbacks along the way, with nearly half of the 100 saplings planted in his first garden being uprooted shortly after. Nevertheless, his perseverance bore fruit, with the garden now boasting over 150 thriving trees. Understanding the importance of spacing between trees for optimal yield, Asmat Ali learned to balance density to minimise waste and maximise productivity.

Highlighting his preference for the Ball Sundari variety, Asmat Ali spoke fondly of its exquisite taste and promising yield. With Ball Sundari and Kashmiri jujubes adorning his gardens, Asmat Ali now sells 20 to 25 kilogrammemes of plums daily, much to the delight of the locals, who eagerly purchase them at Tk 100 per gram. Buoyed by his success, Asmat Ali anticipates earning approximately 2 lakh taka from this season's harvest.

Asmat Ali's integrated farming approach reflects a holistic and sustainable agricultural model, allowing for year-round cultivation of various vegetables alongside jujube farming. The inclusion of crops like ginger and turmeric further diversifies his produce, enhancing both the productivity and profitability of his endeavors. With minimal capital required for jujube cultivation compared to other crops, Asmat Ali attests to the favourable profit margins derived from this integrated system.

Observing the garden, one can witness the meticulous measures taken to safeguard the crops, with mosquito nets serving as barriers against insect and bird intrusions. The vibrant red-green flowers dangling from each tree not only add aesthetic appeal but also signify the fertility and abundance of the orchard. As the branches bend under the weight of the fruits, Asmat Ali's innovative approach allows him to cultivate delightful spring-coloured flowers directly on the trees, further enhancing the visual allure of the garden.

Asmat Ali's son, Mohammad Belal, reminisces about the family's arduous journey from Lakshmipur to Feni, where his father's resilience and hard work laid the foundation for their current prosperity. From the struggles of rickshaw driving to the disappointments of failed vegetable ventures, the jujube garden emerged as a beacon of hope, now yielding an annual income exceeding 2 lakh taka.

Customers like Md. Sajib and Md. Amjad laud the authenticity and purity of the jujubes sourced directly from Asmat Ali's garden, highlighting the trust and satisfaction derived from purchasing unadulterated produce. For them, the garden represents a sanctuary from the uncertainties of market adulteration, reaffirming the value of locally grown, natural products.

Local youth, inspired by Asmat Ali's initiative, recognize the potential of such endeavors as avenues for self-employment and agricultural innovation. Bijoy, in particular, sees Asmat Ali's garden as a source of invaluable knowledge and inspiration, expressing aspirations to undertake similar initiatives in the future, thereby contributing to the community's economic and agricultural landscape.

According to the District Agriculture Extension Department, the cultivation of jujube in Feni has witnessed steady growth, with 90 hectares of land dedicated to its cultivation this season. With a production target of one thousand 80 metric tonnes, the district aims to surpass previous yields. Earlier in the fiscal year 2022–23, jujube was cultivated on 86 hectares of land in the district. The yield was 938 metric tonnes.

Mohammad Nashir Uddin, the Deputy Assistant Agriculture Officer of Kazirbagh Union in Sadar Upazila, emphasises the Agriculture Department's unwavering support for farmers like Asmat Ali. Providing essential guidelines and advice on pest prevention and garden maintenance, the department stands as a steadfast ally in ensuring agricultural success. Asmat Ali's adoption of various winter vegetables alongside jujube cultivation not only diversifies his produce but also translates into additional profits, underscoring the benefits of integrated farming practices.

Jaglul Haider, the Additional Deputy Director of the District Agriculture Extension Department, recognises Feni's conducive soil and environmental conditions for kul cultivation. With the potential for further expansion, jujube farming emerges as a beacon of hope for the town's agricultural landscape.

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