It was hard for any ordinary farmer to see the prospect of an uncommon vegetable in haor region where cultivation of any crops other than paddy is somewhat unlikely.
However, Malind Biswas, a sharecropper of Panisail village under Barlekha upazila in Moulvibazar has gained success in broccoli cultivation, growing the foreign vegetable for the first time in the area.
The dark green nutritious vegetable resembles popular local vegetable cauliflower. The arable lands around Malind's village submerges round the year except the dry season when farmers mostly cultivate Boro paddy there.
"I was almost broke after losing my paddy during floods in 2017. I cultivated paddy in last Boro season too but I could hardly see any hope of profit by cultivating the usual crop," Malind said.
"Then, I heard about the broccoli and decided to cultivate it. I collected 2200 seeds of the vegetable with the help of the upazila agriculture office and planted the seeds in late October last year. The seedlings were then planted on 15 decimals of leased land.
"I faced problems due to lack of experience in broccoli cultivation but Upazila Agricultural Officer Debal Sarkar and Sub-assistant Agriculture Officer Subinoy Chandra Das helped me with their suggetsions.
"I have already sold 1200 broccoli at Tk 37,000. There are some 1000 broccoli in my field for sale," he said, adding that he is planning to increase broccoli cultivation in the next season.
He spent around Tk 15,000 for the cultivation.
"When I started cultivating the foreign vegetable, people laughed at me. But I took the risk and gained success. Now locals honour me as a pioneer. Many of them have shown interest in broccoli cultivation," Malind said.
Upazila Agriculture Officer Debal Sarkar said they have taken initiative to encourage farmers to grow broccoli as the soil and climate of the haor area is suitable for it.
"Malinda Biswas is cultivating broccoli using locally produced organic fertilizers. Seeds of the vegetable are sown in the second half of October. Later the seedlings are planted. Flowering takes place within 80 to 90 days," he added.
Dr Md Sharaf Uddin, chairman of agro forestry and environmental science department of Sylhet Agricultural University, said, "Broccoli is rich in vitamin K, vitamin C, folic acid, potassium and fibre, which are extremely beneficial for health. It contains sulfurorphine, an ingredient helpful for prevention of cancer."
The low calorie vegetable is also useful for keeping the heart healthy, he added.
The nutritious vegetable is likely to be an economically viable crop in the haor area, said Dr Nurul Haque, health and family planning officer of Kulaura Upazila Health Complex.