Malta farming gains popularity in Rajshahi region

Cultivation of malta, a high valued citrus fruit, has been gaining popularity as the growers are reaping lucrative outputs from the farming in the region including its vast Barind tract.Commercial cultivation of the citrus fruits has begun at Godagari, Paba, Mohanpur, Durgapur, Bagmara, Nachole, Bholahat and Rahanpur Upazilas recently making the farmers happy and enthusiastic side by side with vibrating the local economic activities.
The farmers who cultivate malta are now more interested to cultivate the fruit instead of many other fruits and vegetables. This year, this fruit is expected to be produced well.
Some of the farmers said that cultivation of the fruit will bring a revolution in economy of the villages as hundreds of people from ultra-poor families have attained self-reliance by cultivating malta.
DASCOH Foundation, a non-government organization, under its ‘Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) Project, is extending technical and financial support to the farmers for boosting the malta production in the region as part of its effort to promote the less-water consuming crops in the drought-prone area.
Assistant Coordinator of the project, Jahangir Alam Khan said they provided financial support worth Taka 31.17 lakh for installation of 17 submersible pumps with seven solar panels for ensuring irrigation facilities to around 200 bigha of malta farming fields in drip method.
So far, 423 farmers and local government representatives were imparted training on how to cultivate the crop properly.
Meanwhile, newly harvested malta has already started arriving in the local markets. Vendors are selling the fruit in most of the city areas attracting buyers’ eyes.
Mintu Sheikh, a fruit vendor of Shaheb Bazar, said he is selling around 60 to 80 kilograms of green colour malta everyday on an average at Taka 100 to 120 per kg at present.
Another vendor Dablu Hossain at the same market said he is collecting the fruit from Tanore and Godagari areas where it is growing well for the last couple of years.
He said demand of the locally produced fruit is gradually rising among the consumers.
Matiur Rahman, a farmer of Amnura area, has brought 11 bighas of land under malta farming as an alternative crop to paddy. “I have transplanted saplings of Barimalta 1 variety. I have already started getting fruit,” he said while talking to BSS on Tuesday.
Another farmer Iftekhar Munna of Bashantapur village has started cultivation of the fruit on 25 bighas of land after failing to cultivate paddy on the land due to scarcity of irrigation water.
Ajahar Ali, a ward Councillor of Kakonhat Pourasabha under Godagari Upazila, had transplanted seedlings on seven bighas of land around three years back. This year, he got Taka 9,500 after selling 100 kg of malta for the first time.
Ali said one bigha of farming field can give yield valued at around Taka 20,000 after spending Taka7,000 to 8,000 per year. Malta plant can yield upto its age of 20 to 25 year at a stretch.
Dr Alim Uddin, Principal Scientific Officer of Fruit Research Station, said Barimalta1 is more droughts tolerant and tasty than any other exotic variety, reports BSS frpm Rajshahi.