Asif finds success in muskmelon cultivation
A youth in Narsingdi has found success in commercial cultivation of muskmelon, also known as "Sammam", an exotic fruit which orginated in the deserts of East Africa and Middle East.
With his success, Ashraful Islam Asif of Nehab area in Panchdhona union has also inspired others to follow in his path.
Closely related to rockmelon or cantaloupe of Mediterranean region, muskmelon grows well in warm climates, usually during the dry season between April and June. Growers in Bangladesh, however, have successfully cultivated the fruit all year round.
Muskmelon grows between 500 grammes to 3.5 kilogrammes each, and has a yellowish exterior and a fleshy interior with an orange hue.
The fruit is rich in Beta-carotene, Folic Acid, Magnesium, Zinc, Copper, Vitamin-C and many other nutrients. It is an ideal fruit for health, said Mahmudul Kabir Bashar Komol, a resident medical officer at Narsingdi Sadar Hospital.
Recently visiting Ashraful's plantation, this correspondent saw a good number of the yellow-coloured fruit hanging from scaffolding made of bamboo and nylon yarn.
"I learnt about cultivating the fruit from social media and invested Tk 35,000 for seeds, labourer, scaffolding, cow dung and insecticide. After the harvest, I have managed to sell the fruits at threefold profit. I have just planted 200 saplings this season. The plants produce a lot of flowers, but we have to cut off most of them and keep only two to three pieces to have a good harvest," Ashraful said.
Although the fruit is new in the local market, it is fetching good responses from customers. Each fruit is selling for Tk 180 to Tk 200 per kg, he said.
"Many unemployed people are coming to me showing interest to learn how to produce the fruit. Meanwhile, I have planned to produce the fruit on an additional land as it is profitable. It is true that the market demand is still low, but it is gradually increasing. I am selling the fruit at local markets and also online," he said.
Rakibul Alam, a local youth, said, "I learnt from Asif how to grow and care for the plants. I think it is a profitable business. The fruit is very delicious and holds good prospect to become popular,"
"I bought two pieces of this new fruit from Ashraful for my family. It is very delicious and many are crowding to visit his farm," said Nasir Uddin, a local.
Azizur Rahman, deputy director of the Department of Agricultural Extension in Narsingdi, said, "Though Sammam is a foreign fruit, we have suitable weather to cultivate it here. Like Ashraful, many youths are coming to learn about producing these fruits. Asif is a bright example for people of this area and his initiatives will surely find success."