The size of the locally produced species is quite big and one kilogramme of the fruit contains only four to five maltas, which can be sold for Tk80 to Tk100
Numerous juicy fruits are hanging in bunches from small boughs at Sunil Baran's malta orchard in Rangamati.
The orchard, containing more than 900 malta trees each with a height of four to five feet on the lowlands of hill slopes in the district's Baghaichhari upazila, can easily be distinguished.
Sunil's orchard is now a source of inspiration for other farmers in the tourism upazila of Chattogram Hill Tracts. But Sunil did not achieve this level of success in just a day or two.
Concerned about the high production cost and low price of fruits belonging to local species, Sunil had to think out of the box.
Hence, he decided to opt for farming a fruit species that would require less transportation cost, yet yield higher prices in the market.
He went for malta farming – a comparatively new addition to the Bangladesh's agricultural sector.
Receiving advice from the upazila Department of Agricultural Extension, Sunil planted malta saplings in his two hectares of land at Gobchhari area in 2015. He was ready to make his dream a reality.
Three years later in 2018, the plants bore first fruits from which he earned Tk2 lakh. The profit encouraged him to give an all-out effort in taking care of the trees.
Impressed by a good crop this season, a triumphant Sunil hopes to earn Tk10 lakh this year. "The profit might be as high as Tk20 lakh if I could sell the fruits in Rangamati town," said Sunil while barely hiding the excitement in his voice.
The size of the locally produced species is quite big and one kilogramme of the fruit contains only four to five maltas, which can be sold for Tk80 to Tk100, according to Sunil.
Hironmoy Chakma, who takes care of Sunil's malta orchard round the clock said the harvest will continue to increase with the course of time.
Sunil has set an example in his area for other farmers, who too are thinking of starting their own malta orchards.
"People from nearby regions come to visit my orchard. I share my experience and ideas [on malta cultivation] with them," Sunil said.
Shakya Chakma, deputy assistant agriculture officer of the Shikoz Block area said Sunil Baran's success inspired many farmers from adjoining areas to set up their own orchard on their fallow lands.
"Many have already planted malta saplings. Day after day, the number of orchards is increasing in the region and already 26 hectares of land is being used for malta farming. The upazila has a good market for the fruit as Sajek Valley has become emerging tourist spot," he added.
Shakya Chakma also pointed out that tourists are coming to the area every day and there is no scarcity of buyers of malta fruits.
"If farmers can produce the fruit in large numbers they can earn more," he said.
Paban Kumar Saha, deputy director of the Rangamati Department of Agricultural Extension, said Sunil's is the biggest individual orchard in the district and it can be termed as an ideal one.
He mentioned there are malta orchards on 200 hectares of land in the entire district. The production target is 2,400 tonnes this year.
The district Department of Agricultural Extension has been distributing malta and mixed fruit saplings to help farmers grow more fruits and earn profits.