Naogaon, Nov 6 (UNB) – Sohel Rana completed his graduation and started an integrated farm in his village Rupgram, located in Dibor union under Patnitola upazila of Naogaon, that has become a source of encouragement for the unemployed graduates in his locality.
Reflecting his homely values, he named it ‘Rupgram Agro Farm’.
But it wasn’t always thus. After graduating from Rajshahi University (RU) he joined a daily newspaper to maintain expenses. He also worked for some local magazines.
All the while though, he dreamt of pursuing his childhood passion of gardening and maintaining orchards where he would grow different fruits. His first attempt came in the form of a mango orchard spread out over three acres of land when he was still a student.
In 2015, he left his job at the newspaper to give shape to his childhood dream, and returning home to Rupgram, started the integrated farm - a wholly organic farm management system which aims to deliver more sustainable agriculture – on 10 acres of land investing Tk 30 lakh, with his younger brother Abdul Bari.
At first, there were plenty of naysayers among locals and relatives, but Sohel believed in himself and ploughed on against the current.
Today, Sohel is a successful entrepreneur employing 16 people at Rupgram, and also serves as an inspiration to others
Numerous fruits such as Mango, Litchi, Dragon fruits, Malta, Coconut, Lemon, Strawberry, Guava and others (about fifty species) are cultivated in his Rupgram Agro Farm.
There are many types of trees and flowering plants also with great herbal qualities such as Neem, Tulsi, Basal, Clitoria Ternatea (Nil Oparajita), white mimosa pudica (sada Lojjabati) and others. Besides, he is also farming fish in three ponds, and rearing ducks, chicken and goats.
All of this helps the farm rake in a lot of money selling his produce domestically. Last year he raked in a profit of Tk 15 lakh.
It didn’t come easy of course. To gain expertise about farming he completed many training courses on different aspects of farming and agriculture from Department of Youth Development, Bangladesh Agricultural University, RDA and BMDA.
“Being inspired from Sohel’s farm I’ve started mango and Thai guava farming in a land of about three acres. I have been cultivating fish with lease of two ponds. Sohel helps me about this providing plants and suggestions” said Shahidul Islam, resident of neighbouring Nishchintapur village.
Abdul Jabbar, a resident of nearby Karamjai village said, “seeing Sohel’s success I’ve started cultivating mango and guava on a land of four acres last year. I’m hoping I can succeed.”
Following his lead, people also started farming around his area leading to more than 100 orchards for a variety of fruits springing up in the area.
“I’ve a plan for starting agro-tourism in this area where various native and foreign nutritional fruits will also be produced and displayed,” said Sohel, sounding every bit the seasoned entrepreneur.
“I also have a dream to build up a storage for preserving the plant and tree species that are becoming extinct. I’ve started another mixed fruits garden in Sapahar area for this purpose,” he added.
Prokash Chandra Sarkar, agricultural officer of Patnitala, said “It’s not that one must use his or her education to secure a job. Rather educated person should come forward to embrace agricultural profession. One can maintain only his or her family holding down a job, but a successful farmer, or agriculture entrepreneur can make himself self-reliant and he can create employments for others.”
“The agricultural department has been supporting him by providing proper guidelines regarding the integrated farming method to help him become a successful entrepreneur,” Sarkar added.
The Agriculture Extension Department in his area have provided support as they are mandated to for anyone throughout the country. But ask anyone in his area Naogaon, or even better his village Rupgram, and they will tell you above all that Sohel is a self-made man. And Rupgram Agro Farm is testament to his success.