Apart from orange, malta and dragon fruits, many agro-entrepreneurs have been cultivating different other foreign varieties, including rambutan, persimmon, Saudi date, dwarf variety of coconut, mangosteen, avocado, muskmelon and rockmelon
Besides the local seasonal fruits, the country's markets – from the street vendors to the super-shops – have on sale a host of various foreign varieties, which are now being farmed locally.
Farming of dragon fruit, which has come from Mexico and central and south Africa, is becoming popular in the country.
Besides, many agro-entrepreneurs have been cultivating different other foreign varieties, including rambutan, persimmon, Saudi date, dwarf variety of coconut, mangosteen, avocado, muskmelon and rockmelon.
According to Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) officials, orange cultivation on a large scale started in the country 14-15 years ago.
The market of orange was then completely dependent on imports, mostly from China and India. For a long time, oranges were cultivated only in some particular areas of the country.
But for the past several years, the fruit is being cultivated all over the country, which resulted in the increase in its production.
According to the Plant Quarantine Wing of the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), the country produced 40,317 tonnes of oranges in the 2019-20 fiscal year while about 2 lakh tonnes were imported over the same period.
However, the production of oranges will increase by five percent in the current fiscal year, according to the DAE.
Although the local production of oranges is one-fifth of the import, consumers now consider oranges as a local fruit.
Meanwhile, the farming of malta is increasing faster than that of orange in the country. Although malta production is still less than that of oranges, it is ahead of orange in terms of the rapid increase in its cultivation.
Consumers now ask for maltas in the market like they do for oranges.
Kabir Hossain, DAE Horticulture Wing director, told The Business Standard that oranges are now being produced all over the country. The number of malta gardens are also on the rise.
In the fiscal year 2019-20, 48 tonnes of malta were imported while 28,041 tonnes were produced in the country.
The production of malta will increase by 15-20 percent this fiscal year, expects the DAE.
Malta is relatively easier to cultivate than oranges. Like oranges, malta also came from China.
Gradually, dragon fruit has started to be considered as a local fruit in Bangladesh.
In the last fiscal year, 3,463 tonnes of dragon fruit were produced in the country.
Some entrepreneurs are choosing foreign fruit farming as a new field of investment.
Helal Uddin has set up an orchard called Fruits Valley in Chandpur's Shahmahmudpur union with an investment of around Tk50 lakh.
Foreign varieties like rockmelon, muskmelon, honeydew and icebox yellow are being cultivated there.
Farooq Ahmed, director of the Citrus Fruits' Expansion, Management and Production Enhancement Project, told TBS, "Many foreign fruits are being cultivated in the country now. A new entrepreneurial class in agribusiness is being formed in the country in this way."
Md Asaduzzaman, DAE director general, said, "We have been working for the last one and a half decades putting stress on the cultivation of citrus fruits. Orange and Malta have been given special importance in our work."
To encourage orange cultivation, agronomists have also developed an improved variety of orange. In 2015, researchers at the Khagrachhari Hill Agriculture Research Centre developed this variety of orange called Bari-2.
In 2006, DAE undertook the Orange Cultivation Development Project. After the completion of this project, 5,000 orange and malta orchards were set up across the country by providing farmers with training on orange and malta cultivation under the Citrus Development Project in 2017.
In 2019, a new project called 'Expansion, Management and Production Enhancement of Citrus Crops' was launched.
The target was to increase the cultivation and production of citrus fruits' saplings by 10-15 percent per annum through this five-year-long project.
The goal is to increase the production of malta and oranges in the country by another 40,000 tonnes at the end of the project.
The total production of local and foreign varieties of fruits in the country was more than 1.23 crore tonnes in 2019-2020 fiscal year while 5.56 lakh tonnes were imported.