Colombo lemon golden treasure for orchardists

Benajir Ahmed with Andrew Eagle

In Narsingdi, the humble lemon signifies solvency, improved living standards and export earnings. To the district’s orchardists, the large, scented Colombo variety has proved itself a citrus treasure.

“Lemons have brought good luck,” says orchardist Babul Chowdhury, who started growing lemons on six bighas of land around a decade ago. Nowadays the size of his plantation has expanded to cover 35 bighas in total.

Each lemon tree is attached to a stake up to twelve feet high for support, with a distance between trees of around ten feet. Each tree can be expected to produce up to 100 kilograms of lemons per annum.

“When I started to grow lemons, the local agriculture officer helped to ensure the crop was disease free and suitable for export,” he recalls. “Nowadays I’ve become one of the largest lemon growers in Bangladesh. It’s really profitable.”

Indeed lemons brought Babul more than luck. They made him solvent. He currently employs fourteen labourers in his orchards every day and as a result of his success many others have invested in lemon orchards.

“We provide advice and pesticides for the farmers,” says deputy agriculture officer in Raipura upazila Mohammad Muzibur Rahman. “We run demonstrations to ensure a good quality of lemon is produced, fit for export.”

Lemons are already being exported to 20 countries in Asia and Europe, with around 20,000 tonnes exported annually, which brings in about USD $30,000 in foreign earnings.

“The Colombo lemon of Narsingdi is famous nationwide,” says deputy director of department of agriculture extension Mohammad Lotafot Hossain. “Our lemons are healthy, without cankers, and thus popular with importers overseas.”

With such success, the golden citrus that has already become a part of the landscape in Shibpur, Monohardi, Belabo and Raipura upazilas looks set to become ever more synonymous with Narsingdi into the future.

Source: The Daily Star. Date: December 13 2016