Amid all the difficulties of earning a living in a foreign land, an expatriate Bangladeshi in Italy has been contributing immensely to pomology or fruticulture of Bangladesh for the past two years.
Mohammad Bahadur so far has sent more than 35 exotic species of fruits and fruit saplings for farmers in Bangladesh through different officials of Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE).
Now 35, Bahadur left his home in Nangalkot upazila of Cumilla for Italy’s Palermo in 2004, a couple of years after passing HSC exams. He currently lives in Vicenza, a city in the country’s northeast region.
Many farmers have already found success in growing the fruits sent by this fruit enthusiast since 2017.
Sohel Rana, a Naogaon-based farmer, said, “Last year I got saplings of three types of pomegranate, purple passion fruit, two verities of seedless persimmon, seedless guava, two types of Malta, seven verities of mango from Bahadur bhai.”
“I also got 700 different varieties of citrus rootstocks for grafting. I already started growing purple passion fruit for the first time in Bangladesh,” said the farmer with excitement.
Atiar Rahman, a nursery owner (known for cultivating ‘Brunei King’ mango for the first time in the country) in Magura’s Shalikha upazila, said, “Bahadur bhai sent me two varieties of orange, two of Malta and three varieties of finger lime. The ‘Washington navel orange’ has already bore fruit this year.”
Bahadur said ever since his migration to Italy, he gradually discovered that he has a knack for gaining knowledge in fruit cultivation. Visiting nearby fruit farms ultimately became his favourite pastime.
Eventually, he came in contact with SM Kamruzzaman, a horticulturist and consultant of ‘Year-Round Fruit Production for Nutrition Improvement Project (YRFP)’ of DAE, who advised him on how his knack for fruits could turn beneficial for fruit production in his homeland.
“Whenever I saw a new variety of fruit, I wished to send it home. SM Kamruzzaman Sir influenced me and inspired me to send all those back home. Besides, the prime minister’s YRFP project also inspired me to solve nutrition problem [in our country].”
“I look for fruits that are uncommon, highly nutritious and could be harvested when most other fruits cannot be grown. I send all the new varieties of fruits after following legal procedures and obtaining necessary health certificates,” said Bahadur, adding that during a visit home earlier this month, he brought with him a number of varieties of persimmon, Bhagwa (pomegranate), jujube, fig, citrus, Annona and mango saplings and rootstocks.
Dr Mehedi Masud, director of the YRFP, said, “Bahadur sent us eight varieties of mango last year. The mangoes are colourful and have long shelf life. The seeds are small and fleshier than other [common] varieties of mango.”
Aside from those, Bahadur has sent seven varieties of avocado -- a highly nutritious fruit, he added.
Horticulturist and YRFP consultant SM Kamruzzaman said, since 2017, Bahadur sent him a kilogram of seeds and rootstocks of wild citrus, four varieties of orange, one variety of grape, two of avocado, four of late variety mango, four of finger lemon, five of Malta and one variety of aroma lime, which can be eaten with skin.
“The rootstocks of a wild variety of citrus he sent me will revolutionise horticulture in Bangladesh. We used to graft citrus varieties in pomelo rootstocks, but the result was not good. Now, Bahadur has solved this problem of grafting citrus fruits in our country.”
Besides, this citrus rootstock is highly drought-tolerant, bacteria and insect resistant, and highly adaptable to extreme weather conditions such as prolonged rainfall or droughts.
“In the coming days, Bahadur’s contribution will revolutionise our agriculture, especially the field of fruticulture,” said Kamruzzaman.