Strawberry grown at the yard of Dr Manjur Hossain in Rajshahi University. Photo: STAR
Drafted On: 2008-04-08
spinner strawberry draws government attention
National Seed Board to approve variety for expansion of cultivation
Anwar Ali, Rajshahi
Strawberry, a money-spinning nutritious and delicious foreign fruit adapted in Bangladesh, may get government registration soon for cultivation across the country after experiments yielded encouraging results in Rajshahi and Natore.
“Once registered, strawberry cultivation will be expanded with government patronisationin, said Braja Hari Das, deputy director of Rajshahi Directorate of Agriculture Extension (DAE).
With great export potential, the sweet and attractive fruit will open a new horizon for farmers, he told this correspondent.
“A strawberry variety has been sent to National Seed Board and the process for registration is underway”, said Dr Shafikul Islam, senior scientific officer of Rajshahi regional Fruit Research Centre (FRC).
Experimental cultivation of strawberry was very successful at Rajshahi FRC and Bangladesh Agriculture Research Institute (BARI) in Joydevpur, he said.
The government experiments started in 2006, three years after Dr Manjur Hossain, a teacher of Rajshahi University Botany department evolved several verities suitable for Bangladesh climate after years of research.
Originating in America, strawberry is usually grown in cold regions like Europe and Australia. It is also grown in some parts of India.
Twelve years ago, Dr Manjur brought some strawberry plants while returning from Japan after his PhD. He began research for the first time in country at RU Botany department’s Plant Breeding and Gene Engineering Laboratory in 1996.
In five years, he evolved some new varieties suitable for cultivation in Bangladesh climate. He is producing strawberry on his yard in Rajshahi city since 2003.
“Growing strawberries experimentally, I sold 35 kg of the fruit at Tk 300 per kg in 2006 and 87 kg at Tk 550 last year”, said Dr. Manjur.
Local fruit importers and some foreigners who visited Manjur’s field recently said the strawberry was bigger in size, attractive in taste and colour than in many other countries.
Horticulturist Quamruzzaman is also cultivating the fruit on commercial basis at his Modern Horticulture Center at Harishpur in Natore for last three years.
“Though planted late this year, I sold some 300 kg strawberries at Tk 300 per kg in Dhaka markets this year”, he said.
The fruit is best for those who want to get higher and faster returns from limited land, according to Manjur and Quamruzzaman.
Up to Tk 6 lakh can be earned from one bigha of land, they said.
Planted in November-December, its cultivation takes about two and a half months. A farmer can get 2000 kg fruit from one bigha by spending around Tk 20,000, they said.
The country has an annual demand for around 50 tonnes of strawberry, now imported from Thailand and Australia at Tk 900-1200 per kg. Strawberry flavour is also imported, they said quoting importers.
“Enthusiastic people are cultivating the fruit in 24 districts and we have formed Bangladesh Strawberry Association to train growers” said Manjur.