Part-time work opportunity was also created for local college students in the grower’s garden
Despite having a university degree, a man from Dinajpur began lemon farming on his family land and is earning four times more with lemon farming compared to what he could in traditional cultivation of mangoes and lychees in his home.
The successful farmer Mamunur Rashid of Dinajpur’s Birampur upazila cultivated a lemon variant from Thailand on three and a half bigha, out of seven bigha of his family land. In the rest of the areas, he farmed 1,150 plants of local lemon varieties.
Mamunur said: "After completing my studies in Kushtia’s Islamic University of Bangladesh in 2006, I began growing mangoes and lychees on seven bigha of my land. However, the amount of toil required for these gardens was not worthwhile compared to what it gave in return.
"I could only earn Tk 50,000 to 60,000 each year cultivating mangoes or lychees. I was looking for a better option and finally opted for lemons, watching the success of its farmers on Youtube.
“I was looking for a lemon variety which could be farmed round the year. I asked my friends about such and collected information from different places. Finally I found such a variety in Jessore's Benapole and collected the plants from there.
"About five years ago, I had cut my mango and lychee trees each aged about 20 years, and planted lemons. Locals called me crazy. Now the lemons can be sold at Tk3 lakh to Tk4 lakh each year.
"Besides, I have begun growing young lemon plants in part of my garden. Considering the demand, the plants grown here could also be sold at Tk3 lakh to Tk4 lakh each year."
Mamunur encouraged post grad unemployed youths to be entrepreneurs in the agriculture sector if they can.
Jahid and Chanchal are part-time workers in Mamunur's garden, and both of them are students.
Jahid said: "Around 20 other students like me work in Mamun bhai's garden. The part-time employment opportunity is beneficial for us. If more such gardens are developed here, students like us could have more scope to earn.
"We fertilize and water the lemon plants, and pick them from the trees. Apart from the upazila markets, the lemons are supplied nearby Fulbari and Hakimpur upazilas. Many traders buy the fruit directly from the garden," Jahid added.
Abdul Kafio, the headmaster of Beparitola High School in the upazila, said: "Dinajpur is reputed for lychee farming. Growing mangoes and lychees here is a tradition. When Mamunur was cutting his lychee and mango trees, people called him mad. Now many are interested in growing lemons after seeing his success.”
Nixon Chandra Pal, an agriculture officer of Birampur upazila, said: "Currently farmers are being successful in lemon cultivation in Birampur. Growers are also getting a good profit by farming and selling juvenile lemon plants.
"The demand for lemon has increased in the pandemic. Mamunur's previously cultivated mangoes and lychees in his garden but it had not been lucrative for him. He was successful in farming lemon in his garden. We have been helping farmers to cultivate lemons and are hoping the trend will expand.”