A village flourishing in local fruits

There are tamarind trees in every house of Goshaidanga village in Jhenaidah's Shailkupa upazila.Prothom Alo

The roadsides, people’s yards and vacant spaces around Goshaidanga village are lined with innumerous tamarind trees. The trees, planted about seven years ago, have started bearing fruits.

Seeing so many tamarind trees in a single village, many people call this village ‘Tentul-gram’ or the tamarind village. There are other villages filled with local fruit trees too.

There are 'boroi' of 'kul' (jujube) trees in Old Bakharba village, abundant wood apple trees in Shahbaria village and coconut trees planted in every single house of Bhatbaria village.

Local residents have named these villages as Bel-gram (wood apple village), Kul-gram ('kul' village) and Narkel-gram (coconut village). These villages are in Sarutia union in Jhenaidah’s Shailkupa upazila.

How did village after village became so replete with local fruit trees? It was a government project and an agricultural officer who brought this about.

About seven years ago, Md Mosleh Uddin alias Tuhin, former agricultural officer of Sarutia Agriculture Block, had planted those trees.

After testing out which fruit is suitable for the soil, water and air of each village as well as considering which village lacks certain fruit trees, he had planted four types of local fruits in four villages.

Mosleh Uddin had planted those local fruit trees under the greater Jashore and Kushtia agricultural development project.

Apart from these four villages, 186 Shojne-gram (drumstick villages), 217 Kanchkola-gram (green banana villages) and 186 Kul-gram (kul village) have been implemented across 31 upazilas in six districts of Jashore region, under the same project.

Mosleh Uddin’s house is in Baroipara village under Shailkupa upazila of Jhenaidah. Currently, he is working as the deputy assistant trainer at the Agricultural Training Institute of Jhenaidah.

Recently he talked about it with Prothom Alo. He said that he joined the agriculture department in 2008. He was given a project of distributing saplings among villagers in 2015.

He then took up the initiative of creating the fruit villages under that project named greater Jashore-Kushtia Agricultural Development.

Utilising that opportunity, he decided to plant local fruit trees after verifying feasible villages and started planting village-based fruit and forest trees.

He began distributing saplings in villages, after taking into consideration the soil, water and environment of the area and which fruit trees were less in number in various which villages.

In the next three years, he motivated people of four villages into planting more trees and distributed saplings among them. Members of every family in the locality are now reaping the benefits of that.

Mosleh Uddin had distributed 300 plum saplings in Old Bakharba village, 300 tamarind saplings in Goshaidanga village, 250 wood apple saplings in Shahbaria village and 200 coconut saplings in Bhatbaria village of Sarutia Block.

Conversing with the villagers, it was learnt that at least 50 per cent of those fruit trees are still surviving in the villages.

Hamidur Rahman, former director of the Department of Agricultural Extension said to Prothom Alo, many of the local crops and fruit species were going extinct from the country.

There are countless nutritional and medicinal qualities to these fruits and grains. If these can be cultivated and grown across the whole country, it will be significant step in preserving the species and in ensuring nutrition security.

During a visit to Gosaidanga village recently, more tamarind trees were seen growing on the roadside and on people’s yards. Many of the trees have started bearing tamarind also.

Villager Alamgir Jalil said, that official of the agriculture department surveyed the village in 2015. And then he provided them with tamarind saplings.

They planted those saplings at his behest. Some of the trees he planted in his house are still there and have borne fruit now, he added.

Amirul Islam of Char Bakharba village under the same block said, all the families of the village had planted 'kul' saplings that they received through agricultural officer Mosleh Uddin.

The trees have grown. Many of the trees have borne fruit while, though some died. Now, people of their village are getting local 'kul' from those trees, he added.

Milton Hossain of the same village said, many people call the village as Kul-gram for there are kul trees in every house of the village.

Asgar Ali, deputy director of the Department of Agricultural Extension in Jhenaidah said to Prothom Alo, every families of the village will have the same fruit in their house and everyone will be able to enjoy these. This is an excellent initiative.