Tripura farmer Bikramjit Chakma

Agartala: What connects Kashmir, Bangladesh and Tripura? Before you start thinking of conspiracy theories, it is the Kashmir Apple Ber. And Bikramjit Chakma, a resident of Pecharthal, Unakoti, in Tripura, set an example of self-reliance by planting the fruit in his state, becoming the first person in Tripura to do so. And within one year, he has more than doubled his investments. How? Read on.

During the day, Bikramjit is a field officer of Tripura OBC Corporation. But he also likes to work with his family members. Bikramjit noticed that his uncle and two cousins were cultivating potatoes, radishes and other seasonal crops. However, they barely made a profit of Rs 1,000 a month. The family had land in plenty, but the current farming could not even cover a family’s bare necessities, let alone help them live comfortably. This prompted Bikramjit to start something new, even if it meant taking a risk.

Of course, Bikramjit did not find much success initially. He and his cousins tried several crops, including areca nut, drumsticks, etc., but having failed to gain much out of the investment, Bikramjit decided to try something new.

“I was searching on Google about crops that can be beneficial for the cultivation when I came across a YouTube link of ‘Shykh Seraj’ a well-known journalist from Bangladesh. He was talking about the benefits of cultivating Kashmiri Apple Ber in Bangladesh,” Bikramjit Said.

Bikramjit wondered: if people can cultivate Kashmiri Apple Ber in Bangladesh, why not in Tripura, which shares the weather condition and an extensive border with Bangladesh?

He planted about 1,300 saplings within a month, starting March last year, and by the end of October, the plants started flowering. In January, they were ready for harvesting.

“My uncle, Chanchal Kumar Chakma and two cousins, Ranjit Chakma and Biswajit Chakma contributed immensely to the success. Thanks to their tireless work, we have seen profit today,” says Bikramjit.

Between January and March, all the crops were harvested and ready for sale. He estimated that they harvested about 40 quintals of Kashmiri apple ber. Of this, they sold 12 quintals of fruits to wholesalers, while the rest was sold in the local market.

“We never imagined that the sapling I brought would turn into the Kashmiri apple tree. However, now with just the right care, one can reap the rewards year after year,” said Bikramjit, adding that next year he will get double the produce.

“Many people had never seen that in Tripura before. So, at first, it was possible to sell at around Rs 200 per kg. Later, we sold 12 quintals of the fruit to wholesalers at Rs 56 per kg in one day. The rest of the fruit is sold in the local market at an average price of Rs 115 to Rs 120,” he added.

This year, the family earned about Rs 6 lakh, and they hope to double that next year. “This year, one tree gave a maximum of 25 kg and a minimum of 8 kg of fruit. Next year, we can easily get 70 to 80 quintals of fruit. The harvesting will start next January,” said Bikramjit.

Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb praised the innovative initiative and said that Bikramjit Chakma, a resident of Pecharathal, has set an example of self-reliance.
“This young man has achieved success by applying a fancy idea in farming with his uncles. He cultivates Kashmiri apple ber trees in 6 Kani area. It has harvested about 40 quintals of fruit for the first time. This young man has earned about 6 lakh rupees by investing Rs 2.5 lakh. Bikramjit is optimistic that the trees will bear double fruit next year. I applaud his initiative. His desire to become self-reliant and to achieve success will inspire others in the state as well,” Deb wrote on Twitter.

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