This is tree-planting season in Bangladesh. There is also a Tree Planting Drive going on nationally with support from the highest levels.
Speaking of trees, the papers are usually full of articles bemoaning the deforestation of Bangladesh. I wonder, do these authors ever visit any village? If they do, they will find that every available spot in the villages are taken up by rows and rows of wood trees - such as mahogany, acacia, menjam, and so on - because the farmers have figured out it is profitable. Talk to any villager, and they will expound on how important and valuable it is to have lots of trees. So, what gives? Do they see a few trees downed in Dhaka and get all worked up, while missing a few million trees planted all over the country?
Ok, back to tree-planting. I prepared my patch of land for planting. This involved cutting drains through the middle to make sure water drained properly, as well as eliminating weeds. Then, I had to decide what trees to plant. The choices are: a) wood trees; b) fruit trees and c) ornamental trees. I opted for a mix of the three, since I like to see a variety rather than a repetitive pattern. Then, I had to decide how many to plant. That one is easy, because the standard formula is one tree every six feet, for most species.
Plan ready, I went off looking for seedlings to plant.
The first nursery I went to was a rural one. Here, I found lots of hardwood: acacia (akashmoni), menjam, mahogany, eucalyptus, sal (gojaria), neem, agar, arjun and others. I wrote down the prices (Tk 3-4 per seedling) and went away with a list of the available items to sort into a large order. But then my tree-experts warned me. The seedlings were too small. So? So the trees will take a lot more effort to nurture. Cows will eat them. Grass and weeds in the meadow will overtake them and they will get lost. It seemed the only reasonable ones were the menjam seedlings.
Then I sent people to other nurseries nearby. But guess what, all the larger seedlings were gone. That's because people had already bought them in anticipation of the rainy season. The ones left were either too small or crooked or bent. My experts advised me against the crooked and bent ones because they will grow to be crooked and bent trees. Oh well.
Back in Dhaka, I went looking for more seedlings. But Dhaka is urban. There is hardly any land left for tree-planting. People plant things in containers on their rooftops. And so the Dhaka nurseries cater to that clientele. There are plenty of pretty flower and smaller plants (agave, cactuses, other types of pretty-leaved plants.)
Then there are the fruit trees in Dhaka nurseries. Most popular are Apel-Kul and Bau-Kul, as well as varieties of mangoes and guavas. I saw a mango tree in a container, about six feet tall, from which three or four small mangoes dangled. Price? Tk 2000! Some years ago "Kaji Peara" - a dwarf guava plant that yielded large but tasteless guavas - was very popular. But I did not see many Kaji Pearas. Perhaps they had all been sold?
In the end I opted for a mix of Menjam (a tree that grows reasonably fast and produces good wood), Agar (value as perfume producer), Akashmoni, various Kuls, Neem, and a few Amra trees. We'll see in a few years how well they work out!