Farmers in the district have been cultivating malta for the last few years as they have found it to be a profitable crop.
Trishul Chakma, a government employee, started a malta orchard beside his house four years ago. The trees have yielded fruit for the last two years, and he earned good profit by selling those. Many other farmers have also benefited from malta gardens in the district.
They are getting help and advice from the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) as maintaining a malta garden needs regular and timely use of fertilizers and pesticides.
This correspondent recently visited three malta gardens, two at Gargajyachhari in Sadar upazila and one at Jagantoli area in Mahalchhari upazila. Most of the trees in these gardens yield an average of 70-80 fruits per tree.
Trishul has eighty two trees next to his house at Gargajyachhari village. He earned Tk 90,000 last year and Tk 1.10 lakh this year.
Jebon Dewan, a youth of the same area, told this correspondent that he started a garden four years ago to get rid of the curse of unemployment. He has 120 malta trees in his garden and has been getting the fruit for the last two years. He expects to earn Tk 1 lakh this year.
Time passes quickly when he is working in the garden, Jebon said. He said he wants to make a bigger garden with the help of DAE.
Kalababu Chakma, a gardener of Jagantoali village, said he planted 350 malta trees four years ago. This year, he got yield from 140 of them and earned a profit of Tk 2.5 lakh.
Assistant Director of Khagrachhari DAE Tarun Bhattacharya said malta is being cultivated on 230 hectares of land in the district. Bari-1 and local varieties of malta are being cultivated in these gardens. However, cultivation of Bari-1 malta is the highest.