Volume 2 Issue 52 | February 28 , 2009 |


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Behind the Scene

From Comilla

Strawberry Fields Forever

Zakir Azad

Strawberries are not native to the land of Bangladesh. At present strawberries are being cultivated in parts of Bangladesh, but seeds and seedlings are hard to come by, so they are not grown in many places, and are mostly cultivated non-commercially. Finding viable strawberry seedlings is difficult and time-consuming, but Rezauddin Chowdhury Sohel of Comilla was determined to do so. After a long period of searching, Sohel arrived at the office of H. M. Iqbal Ahmed, sub-director of the Comilla Agricultural Development Center. With his help, Sohel was able to collect five strawberry seedlings from Comilla Horticulture Center for just Tk. 100. These five seedlings were the last of the strawberry seedlings the centre had. These seedlings were planted with a great deal of care at his village at Bagura Upazilla, Pawalgacha Union, in the house of Bharul Chowdhury. Of the five seedlings, two died. From the surviving three, Sohel has been able to propagate 140 more. The older plants are already beginning to bloom and this has put a big smile on Sohel's face. He is making the necessary preparations for commercial cultivation of strawberries.

For many, strawberries are a new, unknown fruit. This however, is not the case for Sohel. Strawberries are one his favourite fruits, having become familiar with it while in Saudi Arabia. After returning to Bangladesh in 2004, Sohel began to earn a good living through commercial agriculture. He is running a fishing operation in four ponds spanning an area of almost four acres. A year ago, he planted 85 baukul and 17 appelkul saplings beside his ponds. Within the first year, he was able to sell kul worth around Tk. 30,000. He is also cultivating gourds (lau) around his ponds, and in the dry seasons, he pumps out the water in his ponds and grows a hybrid boro rice crop.

Sohel uses modern techniques for all his cultivations. He has received the most encouragement and support in this regard from Iqbal Ahmed, and the field offices of Comilla Agricultural Development Centre. Sohel says he is the first in Comilla to cultivate strawberries commercially. Growing strawberries does not require extra effort or capital, he says, just the care and supervision required for any regular cultivation. Sohel has received training from Comilla Horticulture Centre on growing mushrooms. He dreams of one day being able to build a modern farm. But this requires capital, which he doesn't have at the moment. Sohel's work and his success, can serve as a model for many looking for work. Many are coming to see his farm, and to learn from him his techniques. Sohel says a job is not the only means to earning a living. By using ones brains as well as giving effort in agricultural pursuits, more can happen than you ever expect.


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