September 19, 2021, 5:47 pm
Masud Rana Joy: It is said that coffee is the next most popular drink in the world. In Western countries, coffee is a daily companion in waking up, chatting or meeting. People’s interest in coffee is also increasing in the country. Although the country’s demand has been met by exporting foreign tea and earning foreign exchange, the potential for coffee is still elusive.
However, the government is giving importance to this sector even though it is late. And the hill soils are being given additional priority as suitable for cultivation. Khagrachhari Agricultural Research Center has been working for many years to get good, improved flavored and fragrant coffee. It has already been successful. Now waiting to spread at the farmer level.
Agriculture researchers say that although there are 60 species of coffee in the world, two varieties of coffee are cultivated commercially. One is Robusta and the other is Arabic. Rust disease is less in robusta coffee plants. Arabic varieties are suitable for cultivation in our country but the yield is low. It is learned that in 2003, the Chittagong Hill Tracts Development Board (KTBD) provided 1500 coffee saplings to 30 families in Barapila of Ramgarh and 20 families in Taikarma area in different parts of Khagrachhari. Besides, cash is also given for planting these saplings. Although coffee is cultivated along with other fruits, it is stunted due to lack of processing and market management.
Meanwhile, Khagrachhari Agricultural Research Center started research activities on coffee from 2001. At present, the center has 395 orchards of Robusta trees. Another new garden with 200 seedlings of Arabic variety has also been established. Coffee grows well under shady trees on the slopes of mountains. However, Arabic varieties of coffee require a relatively high height.
The shape of the tree varies from place to place in the mountains. There are also differences in yield. Each tree yields 8 to 10 kg. Robusta yield per hectare is 8 thousand to 10 thousand kg. And the yield per arabica is 3 and a half to 6 thousand kg. From the Agricultural Research Center, 395 trees yield 3,170 kg.
Has already developed several technologies for processing coffee for farmers. Barry Coffee Pallar, Barry Fee D-Holler, Barry Coffee Roaster, Coffee Grinder are some of them.
The government has taken up a Tk 200 crore project for research, development and expansion of coffee and almondsUnder the project, coffee and cashew nut cultivation has been expanded, production increased, processed and marketed in 25 upazilas of Khagrachhari, Rangamati and Bandarban to generate income and employment for farmers.
The Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute is also working on developing new varieties of coffee locally to boost commercial production of coffee. The name of the new variety will be Bari Coffee-1.
Munshi Rashid Ahmed, chief scientific officer of the Khagrachhari Agricultural Research Center, said research was being done at the center to create new forward lines from the fruit-bearing robusta and arabica trees. In order to be recognized as a variety, it takes three years of research on the yield, disease and quality of the front line. We have done that.
Hopefully it will be recognized at the end of the process. Robusta yield is two and a half times higher than Arabica. However, Arabica flavor and taste are better than Robusta, so the demand is also higher. The amount of caffeine is higher than that of Robusta.
Abu Taher Masood, chief scientific officer of the Agricultural Research Institute, said, “We have closely observed the cultivation of robusta and arabica.” From these two species of trees, we are proposing a new variety of Bari Coffee-1. There are some more tests left. Then the approval process will go in a regular manner. Coffee plants have a lower risk of disease outbreaks, so cultivation is possible with little care.
The project titled ‘Poverty Reduction through Coffee and Almond Cultivation in the Chittagong Hill Tracts’ proposed by the Ministry of Chittagong Hill Tracts has cost Tk 49.96 crore. All of which will be funded by the government.
Bandarban Sadar, Roangchhari, Ruma and Thanchi; Rangamati Sadar, Naniyarchar, Kaptai and Jurachari; The project will be implemented in Khagrachhari Sadar, Manikchhari and Matiranga Ramgarh upazilas.
Agricultural scientists hope that if coffee can be cultivated commercially like other fruits, it can be exported abroad by meeting the demand of the country.