Fetching a high price with little investment, the avocado has roped in Chapainawabganj farmers, supported by the local horticulture office and the district Department of Agriculture Extension
The avocado, one of the newest exotic crops to hit Bangladesh, is competing with the mango, the king of all fruits, in Chapainawabganj, the "mango capital" of the country. Known to be a healthy fat with significant health benefits, the avocado is slowly becoming the crop of choice for the district's farmers.
In terms of exotic crops, the avocado is the newest exotic crop after strawberry, dragon fruit, malta orange, seedless guava, and Kashmiri jujubes.
Fetching a high price with little investment, the avocado has roped in Chapainawabganj farmers, supported by the local horticulture office and the district Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE).
The exotic fruit, botanically a berry, had become a favourite of the health-conscious in Dhaka and was previously only available as an imported item.
Jahurul Islam, germplasm conservation officer for the Chapainawabganj Horticulture Centre, said: “The fruit has 34% monounsaturated fats, which are beneficial for the heart. These fats counter LDL, the bad cholesterol, and triglycerides, and improve good cholesterol or HDL levels."
“In the last few years, farmers have started growing avocados commercially in Chapainawabganj, Dinajpur, Narayanganj, and Bogra," he added.
“However, there is one important technical aspect to growing this fruit. Avocado saplings need to be planted in groups of 4-6. Otherwise the yield is likely to be poor due to pollination problems. For commercial purposes, it is best to plant more than eight trees on the same piece of land at a time,” the horticulturalist said.
This was observed upon visiting the Chapainawabganj Horticulture Centre, where one mother avocado plant helped grow 15-20 other plants around it, each about six months old.
Saifur Rahman, deputy director at the horticulture centre, said tropical Bangladesh is one of the most suitable places for growing avocados, as humid weather is appropriate for bumper yields, the kind of climate that is not there in most Western countries.
"International prices of avocados surpass that of many leading export fruits of Bangladesh," he remarked. "This has motivated many farmers to switch to farming avocados. The demand for avocados in Bangladesh is increasing day by day due to its nutritional value. If farmers use grafting to get their plants, these do not take long to bear fruit.”
Currently imported avocados are sold in selective Dhaka stores for Tk1,000-1,500 per kilogram. If it is locally produced, then the prices would decrease, opening a revenue window for Bangladeshi farmers, Saifur observed.
Manzurul Huda, deputy director at the Chapainawabganj DAE office, said expansion plans are already underway to grow more avocados in the district.