Rafiqul Islam, UNB Staff Writer
Dhaka – The Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) has targeted to produce additional 2,000 metric tonnes of citrus fruit production, including orange, blood orange (that we call malta), grapefruit and lemon, by 2021.
“About 800 hectares of land will be brought under citrus fruits cultivation under the Citrus Development Project and we hope that additional 2,000 metric tonnes of citrus fruits would be produced by 2021,” DAE assistant director Nijhum Kaiyum Talukder told UNB.
Till then,, she said citrus fruit production will go up gradually every year.
The DAE took the five-year Citrus Development Project in 2013 to extend cultivation of orange, mandarin orange and other citrus to 67 upazilas of 17 districts in the country. The project is supposed to be completed by 2018.
Nijhum said about 60 percent of project work has already been completed and the DAE expected that the remaining work will be completed within the stipulated period.
“After implementation of the project, citrus plants will go on production within two or three years,” she said.
The Citrus Development Project is being implemented in Cox’s Bazar, Bandarban, Rangamati, Khagrachari, Chittagong, Comilla, Moulavibazar, Sylhet, Norsingdi, Gazipur, Tangail, Mymensingh, Netrokona, Sherpur, Thakurgaon and Panchagar districts.
Demand of oranges is increasing in the country day by day. A huge amount of foreign exchange is being spent for importing orange and mandarin. DAE officials say that Sylhet, Hobiganj, Moulovibazar, Chittagong, Chittagong hill tract, Cox’s Bazar hilly and well drained areas of Panchgarh, Thakurgaon, Tangail and Gazipur and some part of Mymensingh, Narshindi, Sherpur, Netrokona districts have potential to bring citrus fruit cultivation.
They said it is possible to grow orange, mandarin orange commercially, fulfill the national demand and save foreign exchange by eliminating the problems by developing good varieties and introducing improved management techniques.
Under the Citrus Development Project, farmers are being motivated to grow orange, mandarin and other citrus in the favorable growing areas. Women and tribal farmers are also being involved in growing orange, mandarin and citrus through training.
Identifying mother plants for collecting seeds and scion for saplings production, the project is now disseminating modern nursery management technologies to farmers and helps them conserve soil and climate during cultivation of citrus fruits. It is also disseminating citrus canker disease management technology for promotion of citrus fruit export.
According to official data, about 135,683 metric tonnes of citrus fruits are being produced in 2,832 hectares area in Bangladesh. More or less citrus are grown all over the country now, but main citrus producing districts are – Sylhet, Moulavibazar, Habigonj, Bandarban, Khagrachari, Rangamati, Chittaging Thakurgaon and Panchagar.
A good number of variations are observed in the citrus fruits in respect of taste, flavour and size. Orange , for example, is a tasty fruit having nutritious and medicinal value. It has 22 mg of calcium, 0.03 mg of iron and 40 mg of vitamin C in hundred grams of edible portion.
According to the Plant Protection Wing of DAE, about 101,000 metric tonnes of orange and mandarin orange was imported to meet domestic demand in 2011. – UNB