A farmer and pilot
Asaduzzaman is a farmer. The 37-year-old is actually a successful Bangladeshi farmer in New Zealand. He grows kiwifruit, which is very famous all over the world. So, when he wanted to show us his farm it was too tempting for us to decline. He picked us from our hotel in the city centre at around 11:30 am and drove us to his proud property, which now covers a land of about 65 hectares. It was a 45-minute drive to Te Puke from Tauranga city centre and when we arrived there our first curiosity was what he grows and how he grows that dull greenish-brown skinned and bright green or golden flesh with rows of tiny, black, edible seeds.
As we entered one of many blocks of his kiwifruit garden, he showed one tree and according to Asadduzzaman it was 57 years old. That eight-feet tall tree had its many branches just hanging over our heads and of course those greenish fruits with a soft texture and a sweet but unique flavor. He has got 50 workers who take care of his three units called Asad 1-3. He harvests his kiwifruits once a year in May-June.
When asked how much a kilogram of kiwifruit costs in the kitchen market he said: “Its eight dollars (NZ) and you can have about 20 pieces in a one-kilo karat. But those are Grade C fruits and the top grades are actually being exported to western countries.”
Asad is a spectacular story of rags to riches. A bachelor degree holder from University Laboratory School, he came to New Zealand in 2000. He usually worked in kiwifruit gardens or in apple gardens when he first arrived here. A hard worker, Asad started his own kiwifruit garden seven years ago when he bought a five hectare garden from a native. He however was very reluctant to provide the financial breakdown.
“I have bought it for 1.5 lakh dollars and I had to take a loan from the bank. The property is now worth more than three times that,” said the successful farmer. The secret behind his success is very simple. He worked 16 hours a day to make his venture a commercially viable one.
Asad, who uses his own nameplate in his Toyota SUV (something anyone can do in New Zealand for an extra charge), not only made his years of hard work count but perhaps became the only grower.
“It feels proud that I'm a Bangladeshi grower in New Zealand. But to come this far I had to work really hard. I'm still working very hard and I have never forgotten the hardship many of us had to endure when we first came here,” said Asad, who also has a Cessna plane.
“I'm also a commercial pilot and it took me two-and-a-half years to obtain that license (propeller-driven small plane),” said a proud father of a son and a daughter.
An ambitious man, he also showed off his new project -- a new garden of gold kiwifruit (the inside of which is more golden than conventional greenish ones). The trees are only a few feet tall at the moment.
“This breed is expensive and more popular. Besides, the green one takes seven years for your first harvesting but this one will take me three years for first harvest. I needed a separate license for this. But I'm hopeful of a good prospect,” said the millionaire farmer.