Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU) Germ Plasm Centre, second largest fruit repository in the world, has a great potentiality of developing fruits of foreign varieties, enriched with nutritional value.
One of the largest such repository can be seen in Miami, USA, according to researchers here.
In recent years, the BAU centre has released four new varieties of foreign fruits for the farmers. These varieties — Santol from Thailand, Rambutan from Indonesia, Dragon Fruit from Vietnam and Persimon from Japan — have added extra attractions to the huge garden.
The centre now draws the attention of a large number of local and foreign visitors. The scientists hope that these four foreign varieties of fruits will soon be commercially cultivated in the country.
Rambutan, a South-East Asian fruit, (grown mostly in Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand) has huge demand all over the world and it will be the main fruit item for export to those three countries, sources said.
These four foreign varieties are harvested between May and November when local fruits are rarely available in the market.
The demand for the foreign variety fruits is also high in the capital city and district towns as well, said Prof. Dr. Md. Abdur Rahim, director of the centre.
“Our rich soil is perfect for cultivation of these varieties to ease pressure on imported fruits,” he said.
“To meet local nutritional demand and earn foreign exchange, the production of these fruits could be of great help,” the director went on.
The centre collected the four foreign varieties in 1999 and started producing saplings in 2007, said Dr. Rahim.
It has also produced 10,000 saplings of the varieties and most of them have been given to the farmers through distribution channels since 2007, he added.
The Dragon Flower has become popular, especially among the farmers of Chittagong and Mongla areas, as it also grows well in saline soil.
The centre started its journey with 74 fruit trees of 10 varieties in 1991. It is now furnished with over 11,000 fruit tress of 700 varieties, including 50 foreign varieties from 44 countries of the world. Dr. Rahim was appointed as an ‘investigator’ at the centre at its inception, sources said.
Nearly extinct 63 varieties like boichi, dumur, dewa, paniwala, betul, gaab, chalta and arboroi has also given the germ plasm centre further variation. Over, 10,000 farmers of different districts have been trained on country and foreign varieties of fruits since 2007, they said.
Dr. Md. Shamsul Alam Mithu, Senior Research Associate, said that if the foreign varieties are enriched properly and cultivated widely, fruits will be available round the year to meet up the nutritional demand.
The centre needs adequate financial support from the government for more research work, he said.