The largest malta orchard in the district belongs to Shah Alam Hawlader of Nalchity upazila's Shiddhakathi union
Malta farming has turned out to be a success for farmers in Jhalakathi, as the lands in the district are highly suitable for growing the fruit.
This has been possible with a little capital and a small amount of farmland that was required, to pull many youths out of poverty.
The largest malta orchard in the district belongs to Shah Alam Hawlader of Nalchity upazila's Shiddhakathi union.
He had begun cultivating malta on a trial basis initially with 100 malta seedlings. After experiencing success, he leased four acres of land for full-scale expansion. He currently sells a kilogram of malta at Tk200.
Shah Alam's orchard, named Sarina Malta Garden, was initially a 10 shatak land in 2016, he recollected.
Currently he sells Tk4 lakh of malta grown on seven bighas of land. He sells three types of malta - Bari-1 malta, Thai malta and Indian malta.
"Several youths in the union have taken 150 malta seedlings from me so far," he added.
Apart from malta, he also has 80 varieties of fruits, which include local and foreign varieties of mango, dates and lychee.
The use of vermi-compost fertilizer and bio-pesticide instead of chemical fertilizers or insecticides is also increasing to ensure the organic nature of the fruit.
Shah Alam's malta is commercially sold to the nearby Bakerganj upazila, which later spreads across the country. However, many wholesalers contact him directly and place their orders in advance, he said.
He hoped for assistance from the government and bank support to further expand his malta orchard.
“It is very popular in the local market, because it is tastier and more delicious compared to the imported ones,” he added.
Khandaker Iqbal Mahmood, another malta cultivator from Sadar upazila, began growing 800 malta seedlings on three acres in 2017. This year, he hopes to sell Tk5-7 lakh of the fruit.
Md Faizul Haque, deputy director of Jhalakathi's Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) office, said malta farming is now popular in the southern region and it is increasing day by day as it is a profitable crop.
Deputy Director of the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) of the district Krishno Prashad Mallik said malta was grown on 30 hectares of land in the district and the yield was good due to favourable weather conditions.