Amid gloomy atmosphere all around, caused by novel coronavirus, a red fruit is putting smiles on farmers' faces in Srimangal and Kamalganj upazilas of Moulvibazar.
'Lal Bahadur (the spunky red)' is the name of the red delight -- a new variety of high breed tomato suitable for growing in summer months -- is currently being cultivated at five trial sites, 10 acres each, at the two upazilas.
Lal Teer, a private seed development and production firm, through their experiments of grafting tomato plants with wild eggplants, developed the seeds and seedlings for the new breed.
After one year of successful trial production of the new summertime tomato, they came up with the name Lal Bahadur.
Farmer Kader Mia, from Jaimarakona village in Kamalganj, who is taking part in the trial production of the variety, said, "As the name implies, it's really not just bright red, it's spunky in the field too with a high yield."
To back up his claim, he said each Lal Bahadur tomato plant he grew in his field produced up to eight kilograms of fruit throughout four straight months and each fruit, quite large in size, weighs up to 180 grams.
Before sowing the seeds, the land has to be prepared between May and July. The trees bear fruits in 60 to 75 days and the fruits are ready to be plucked in 15 to 20 days.
So far he has sold each kg for as high as Tk 90 -- thanks to its attractive looks and size. The oblong and round shaped tomato has a yield of 18 to 22 tonnes per acre, with about Tk 15 thousand cost of cultivation for the same area, added Kader Mia.
Another tomato grower, Muslim Mia, from Tilakpur village in the same upazila, said Lal Bahadur is much better than other summer tomato varieties such as Bari-4 and Bari-6.
Its thicker and tougher skin makes Lal Bahadur tomato less prone to damage during transport and extends its shelf time. One of its best features is that it turns red naturally, he added.
The high-yielding fruit has turned out to be a stable source of income for Monowara Begum of the same village. She said after keeping necessary stock for her family's consumption, she sold the excess fruit and the earning from it was enough for her children's educational expenses.
Tapash Chakraborty, divisional manager of Lal Teer Seed Ltd, said they formally unveiled Lal Bahadur at a press conference in Srimangal recently.
Although they developed the summer hybrid variety tomato with the farmers of Kamalganj area in mind, it can be cultivated in any fertile ground.
After deducting the cost of land preparations, Tk 50 thousand can be made from its harvest on each acre, he added.
Contacted, Srimangal Upazila Agriculture Officer Nilufar Yasmin Monalisa Sweety said the new summer variety, which yielded very large and beautiful tomatoes in trial production, might be beneficial for marginal farmers.
News link: https://www.thedailystar.net/country/news/lal-bahadur-tomato-new-summer-breed-hope-1920205