Squash, a foreign variety of winter vegetable, sees successful cultivation at Refayetpur village in Gaibandha Sadar upazila, thanks to the endeavor of Abu Bakkar Siddique, a local.
Five years ago, Siddique went to Dubai for work but he remained virtually hiding in remote area as the overseas employment agent concerned had arranged his journey there with a fake work permit.
“There I worked in a squash field. After a few months, I was arrested and sent back to country, almost penniless,” said Siddique.
With the seeds collected from an NGO, I started squash cultivation on a piece of land beside my home four years ago.
“As the work turned profitable, last year I took lease of two bighas of land on a five-year contract and started growing squash and other vegetables. This year I cultivated hybrid squash on 38 decimals of land.
“About 2,000 saplings of squash can be planted on one bigha of land and it needs Tk 10,000 to Tk 12,000 as input cost. Each plant yields 10 to 15 kg of squash and sells at Tk 20 to Tk 25 per kg in the wholesale market.
“The vegetable, new in the area, is gaining popularity among locals. The farming helped me to turn around after the failed attempt to seek fortune abroad,” said Siddique.
Idris Ali, a vegetable grower of the same village, said after seeing Siddique’s success, he started cultivating squash on three decimals of land last year and got better return than other vegetables.
Masudur Rahman, deputy director of the Department of Agricultural Extension in Gaibandha, said, “Squash is rich in vitamins A, C, E and K, carbohydrate and protein. We have taken an initiative to encourage cultivation of the foreign vegetable in our area.”