The commercial cultivation of superfood chia seeds (salvia hispanica) has been giving new hope to farmers in Bandarban’s Lama upazila.

Remarkable success in cultivation has created great enthusiasm among growers in and around Lama.

Md Mamun Sikder, field executive of Caritas Bangladesh, inspired a local farmer  in cultivating chia seed on 20 acres of land in Modhu Jhiri village on an experimental basis under the Agro Ecology Project-2 of the organization.

Farmer Mohor Ali, who had a good yield as a result of favourable weather conditions, is now willing to cultivate more chia seeds on land where he used to grow tobacco for three times less profit. This success is drawing other farmers to cultivating chia seeds.

Farmers say that if the cultivation is expanded in the three hill tract districts of the country then chia seeds can bring about a new revolution in the area. 

The highly nutritious chia seeds resemble sesame seeds and the farming method is quite identical as well. It is mainly cultivated in Canada, Australia, Japan, America, Chile, Mexico and New Zealand, in addition to many other developed countries. 

Local farmers say that they are interested in cultivating chia seeds as they require only 600 grams of seeds to cultivate on a 20-acre area of land. 

Monohor Ali spent around Tk15,000 and is expecting to bring home around Tk1,20,000 if there is no natural calamity. 

He said that at first he was wary of the market size of chia seeds. But now farmers from the surrounding areas are pre-ordering seeds from Monohor Ali, who expects to sell each kilogram of the produce for Tk1200. Another farmer, Nurul Islam, from Rupsipara union told Dhaka Tribune that he has placed a pre-order of a kilogram of seeds already. Caritas official Mamun Sikder told Dhaka Tribune that cultivating chia seeds is easy and highly profitable compared to regular crops that are being cultivated in the hilly areas. Upazila Health and Family Planning Officer Dr Mainuddin Morshed terms chia seeds a super food and said it has the possibility of mitigating risk factors related to various diseases, including diabetes. He said that chia is also good for digestion and good health.

Ratan Chandra Barman, Lama Upazila Agriculture Officer, hopes that chia seeds can open up a new window for earning foreign currency for local farmers and exporters.

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