Despite September-October being the perfect months for its extraction, middlemen appear to force the harvest of oranges before they ripen
Good production of malta oranges has elevated the spirits of farmers in the hills of Bandarban district.
This has also led to its nationwide distribution, thanks to the increasing demand.
In the current season, Bari Malta-1 oranges have been cultivated on 25 acres of land in Sadar upazila of the district. Each hectare has produced 3-4 metric tons of the fruit.
The fruits are available in local markets between Tk 150-200 per dozen, with malta farmers expressing satisfaction over its fair prices.
According to local sources, suitable soil and climate has led to the mass production of Bari Malta-1 in Sadar upazila's Kamlangpara, Gatsimanipara, Naimail, Basantapara, Chandapara, and Chimbuk.
Farmers over there had received free seedlings, and appropriate fertilizers from Bandarban Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) office, along with farming techniques, and other logistical support.
Farmer Aungjayu Marma from Sadar upazila’s Kamlang block told Dhaka Tribune, he had begun to cultivate Bari Malta-1 with the DAE's help three years ago, on his two-acre land.
"During the first year, I had profited Tk20,000," he recalled, "This year I have expanded my farmland for a bumper yield."
DAE sources said the ideal time to cultivate malta orange is between May to August, but if a yearlong irrigation process can be confirmed, then the fruit can be grown during any month of the year.
Despite September-October being the perfect months for its extraction, middlemen appear to force the harvest of oranges before they ripen. As a result, these oranges do not taste good.
A single malta tree is capable of producing 250-300 oranges. The hilly climate benefits the fruit in growing proportionally bigger than available varieties from the rest of the country.
Farmers said, as the fruit has a period of two weeks before perishing, traders are opting to buy malta in bulk.
Md Omar Faruk, agriculture officer at Sadar upazila, said it is wonderful to see the expansion of such a fruit that is full of nutrition and vitamin C, and which is economically a much better crop for farmers.
He added his office has already undertaken plans to expand malta cultivation in the district by providing free malta seedlings, pesticides, and logistical support to at least 50 more marginalized farmers.