• Wednesday, Jun 19, 2019
  • Last Update : 04:27 pm

Mixed garden in Sherpur’s abandoned land raising hopes of local farmers

  • Published at 11:20 pm January 10th, 2019
Mixed garden-Dhaka Tribune
Mixed garden with fruits and medicinal trees near the Garo hills in Sherpur attract many locals as the new type of cultivation promises hefty returns Dhaka Tribune

Until now, the mixed garden has sold products amounting to Tk1,000,000 after an initial investment of Tk400,000

Abandoned land near the Garo hills in Sherpur—that was turned into a mixed garden producing both medicinal and fruit trees—has raised the hopes of the local hill residents.

Until now, the mixed garden has sold products amounting to Tk1,000,000 after an initial investment of Tk400,000.

In 2015, social activist Pranjal Sangma started farming the hectare of abandoned land in the remote Sribordi upazila with: 200 mango, 200 hybrid Chinese lychee, 600 betel nut, 300 lotkon and a few pineapple plants. 

Within a year, Pranjal started planting different medicinal plants and vegetables; and in the beginning of 2017, he planted 20,000 aloe vera and asparagus plants.   

Pranjal has already sold nearly 4,000 aloe vera plants, produced by the ones he had planted before. In the next 2-3 months, Pranjal is hopeful he will sell 20,000 aloe vera leaves commercially. 

Talking to the Dhaka Tribune, Pranjal said: “Last year, in eight months, I sold a total of 5,000kg of aloe vera for Tk115,000, as well as Tk50,000’s-worth of asparagus and Tk50,000’s-worth of mangoes. 

“Additionally, I sold an extra Tk500,000’s-worth of aloe vera produced by the plants I had planted before,” he said. “I can also sell other vegetables when the season comes.”

In a mixed garden, four-to-five local, unemployed, labourers have been working since Pranjal began the initiative. “They are working piecemeal,” he said. “We did not have to use any insecticides; the plants grew healthily just with the use of water and organic fertilizers.”

Although a total of Tk700,000 was spent on the garden—including the wages of the labourers— Pranjal is hopeful that if the government helps to plant medicinal and fruit trees, plus vegetables, on the slopes of the hilly areas, it will help to create significant employment opportunities for the locals.

Labourer Probod Marak said: “It is extremely difficult to find work in hilly areas. However, for the past one-and-a-half years, three-to-four labourers, including me, have been working in Pranjal’s mixed garden, and we have been earning enough money to sustain ourselves each day.”

Although Pranjal Sangma’s mixed garden has motivated the local unemployed youths and indigenous farmers to establish such mixed gardens, due to the lack of electricity and roads, the communication in the hilly areas of Sherpur has remained difficult. 

It also becomes extremely expensive to transport the products produced in these areas to other parts of the country; which requires the attention of the government and local representatives. 

Agricultural officer of Sribardi upazila Nazmul Hasan said: “The upazila agricultural office and district agricultural office have regularly been providing advice to the farmers in the hilly areas so they can continue planting mixed gardens.”