Ayub named his 15-acre Bangabandhu Mixed Fruit Orchard after the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
Ayub Ali spent more than a decade, unsuccessfully, in agriculture but, finally struck luck when he invested Tk50,000 in a nursery business. Now, his capital exceeds Tk50 lakh.
The resident of Santoshpur village, Fulbaria upazila of Mymensingh, had discontinued his education after passing his Secondary School Certificate (SSC) examinations in 1992, when he inherited his family's responsibilities.
Ayub said, "I tried to change my fortune in different ways but failed. Then I started a nursery business from which I made some profit."
In 2005, he expanded his business by collecting the saplings and tree shoots of local and foreign varieties of fruit trees from different districts in Bangladesh. He planted them on 40 decimals of land adjacent to his house, and, gradually, the garden increased in area.
He started with a banana orchard and later planted litchis. Ayub said, "I was successful in litchi farming. I brought litchi saplings from Mangalbaria in Kishoreganj; later I brought more litchi saplings from Dinajpur as well as mango saplings from Rajshahi and Chapainawabganj."
He continued, "I planted those saplings on 40 decimals of land. Alongside the litchi and mango plants, I cultivated: pineapple, green chili, eggplant, ginger, and turmeric as side crops. In the first year, I was highly successful from the side crops. I started harvesting mango and litchi within two to three years. I started reaping full harvests from the litchi and mango orchards in five years."
Now his mixed-fruit orchard covers 15 acres of land. He has named it the Bangabandhu Mixed Fruit Orchard out of his great respect for the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Ayub said, "After deducting costs, the net income from the orchard is Tk15 to Tk18 lakh per year."
Ayub has collected the fruit trees of more than 100 species from different places in last 14 years. He grows: China 3 litchi, Thai basil, Thai pomegranate, dragon fruit, malta, orange, Iraqi lemon, plum, Thai water apple, grape, star fruit, tamarind, sapodilla, Thai carissa carandas, papaya, local and foreign wood apple, hog plum, jackfruit – plus different varieties of mango and guava.
Ayub told The Business Standard that planting fruit trees is his passion. He planned to plant fruit trees on both sides of the roads in Santoshpur in 2015. After discussing the matter with local representatives, he started planting fruit trees on the west side of Kandur Bazar road in Santoshpur; but the Santoshpur Rubber Garden authorities obstructed him, suspending his tree-planting programme for a year.
Later, he received permission from the Fulbaria Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) and the upazila engineer, so resumed his programme.
Ayub planted 3,500 fruit trees on six kilometres of both sides of the eight-kilometre road and employed two workers to protect the trees from cattle.
Profession and hobby
Ayub's family comprises his wife, Kalpana Begum, two daughters, and a son. Kalpana is a great inspiration for his work.
Every season, she tends the fruits in the yard – as the house is itself an orchard – and the family's guests are served freshly-plucked fruits.
Islam Uddin, a youth of the same area, said, "I was unemployed though my father had some land. I did not know how to use the land. Then I met Ayub bhai. I took plants, tree shoots and advice from him to start a fruit orchard. I have become self-reliant by growing fruits following his advice."
Abdul Mazed, deputy director of the district's Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), said, "Ayub Ali is a pioneer among Fulbaria upazila's fruit farmers. He has established himself as a successful fruit farmer through his hard work."