The success of Mostafa Kamal, a motorcycle enthusiast turned commercial malta grower, has inspired hundreds of others throughout Kurigram to follow in his footsteps.
When starting his agro venture last year, Mostafa did not ask for charity or loans to fuel his orchard. Instead, he sold his motorbike, which was his most cherished possession. The young entrepreneur’s dedication to his venture is now paying off.
Mostafa had invested around Tk 70,000 in his orchard back in 2020. This year, he sold two maunds of malta for Tk 12,800 so far, and is expecting to sell the fruit worth an additional Tk 50,000 in the coming days. He sells per kilogramme of malta for Tk 160.
Sharing his motivation for taking up farming, Mostafa said, “Perseverance, hard work and patience is the secret behind all triumphs. I chose to take up my ancestral profession farming, instead seeking any public or private employment.
“My family was underprivileged, so I had to do something to provide for them. I became involved in agriculture after passing my Secondary School Certificate (SSC) examination.”
Mostafa continued, “I was merely a novice at first, so I joined Gopalpur Dana Phosol Krishak Dal – a local association for amateur farmers. Agriculturists, experts, and Department of Agricultural Extension officials organised training and engagement programmes under this organisation, and I received my initial training from there.
“Almost a year ago, I learned about green malta farming and established a malta orchard in the backyard of my home with 41 seedlings of BRRI-1 malta variety, which the DAE had awarded to me.”
Providing more details about malta cultivation in the area, DAE Deputy Director Monjurul Haque said, “The size of the locally produced variety is quite big, and one kilogramme of the fruit contains only four to five maltas, which can be sold for Tk140 to Tk160.
“Locally grown malta enhances immunity and has shown to be quite helpful in treating people with anaemia. About 95 farmers are cultivating the fruit on 12 hectares of crop land on an experimental basis.”
The popular fruit also contains a type of fibre called pectin that helps prevent colon cancer. Given its many medicinal properties and delicious taste, the demand for malta has increased exponentially over the years.
Malta farming does not require much effort. Within a year of planting, 250 to 300 fruits can be obtained from a single tree, and around one hundred malta saplings can be planted on one bigha of land, making it a highly profitable crop, says Mostafa.
Shahriar Hossain, an agricultural officer of Nageshwari upazila, said, “Thanks to the increasing popularity of locally grown malta, imports are almost no longer necessary. The domestic fruit tastes better and has a lower price compared to the imported ones.
“Almost 20 to 25 hectares of cropland in the upazila have been brought under malta cultivation this year. If the production goes well in the country, foreign malta would eventually be phased out due to the rising domestic production.”