The curious mind of Sohel Rana has led him to try his hand at growing the purple passion fruit at Rupgram village of Nagaon’s Sapahar upazila.
The thirty-six-year old is well-known in the village as an educated, successful farmer. He first began farming in 2015, after he quit his job as an online journalist in Dhaka.
He currently has three orchards -- one spanning 16 bighas, another seven bighas and the largest that is 60 bighas -- where he grows local and foreign fruits.
He recently planted the sapling of a purple passion fruit, and the vine is already bearing more than 200 fruits. The fruit will be ready to harvest in a couple of months, hopes Rana, who completed his masters in statistics from Rajshahi University in 2009.
“I am passionate about growing unique and uncommon fruits. I want to introduce new farming methods to our local farmers,” he said, when this correspondent visited Rupgram Agro-Farm on April 26. “At this moment, I am growing 12 new types of fruits, including the purple passion fruit.”
Rana got two purple passion fruit saplings last year through Md Bahadur, a Bangladeshi expatriate in Italy, who brought it into the country by following due procedure. They first met on Facebook.
“Whenever I travel to new places in Italy, I see new varieties of fruits and wish my friends and family back in Dhaka could taste them,” Bahadur told The Daily Star over the phone.
He gave one of the saplings to M Enamul Haque, former director general of the Department of Agricultural Extension, who planted it on his rooftop garden. But it did not bear flowers yet. “The passion fruit is highly nutritious, rich in potassium, calcium, vitamins and minerals,” said Haque.
Sohel planted the other sapling in this orchard in the first week of May last year. “Its flowers bloomed in the last week of March. The vines are expected to bear fruit twice a year,” he said.
“Farmers in the country have grown the yellow passion fruit for a long time. The purple variety is new for us,” Mehedi Masood, project director of year-round fruit production for nutrition improvement project of Department of Agricultural Extension, told The Daily Star.
“I first saw the purple fruit in Vietnam. It is delicious to eat, and I am sure locals will love the taste,” he added.
The purple variety has better yield than the yellow variety.
“We are planning to graft it soon and will send to farmers across the country through our horticulture centres,” he said. Farmers can expect to benefit as they will get good market prices.