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Expansion of palmyra palm plantation in the spotlight

Technological work underway to make paper from its leaves

Motiar Rahman | April 03, 2024 00:00:00

A palm garden on the premises of Bangladesh Sugarcane Research Institute in Ishwardi upazila of Pabna district — FE Photo

PABNA, Apr 02: Recognising the importance of palmyra palm (scientific name Borassus flabellifer) leaves as a life-saving, nutritive-delicious and valuable element, emphasis is now being placed on expansion of its plantation.

The main feature of the palm tree is that it acts as a lightning rod. The huge potential of making paper from palm leaves is being realised and that's why technological work on it is no ongoing.

Palm trees are now being planted in a large number at the private sector level, and also by the agriculture department, on the orders of the government.

Deputy director of the Department of Agricultural Extension, Pabna, Dr Jamal Uddin said, "Palm trees act as lightning rods. Due to the high carbon content of palm trees, they help prevent lightning. Palm bark has a thick layer of carbon. The height and structure of palm trees also help in preventing lightning strikes."

He also said that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had made an announcement in 2017 to plant palm trees on a large scale.

"Every year the agriculture department collects palm saplings and plants them along roadsides and fallow lands as per government guidelines for planting palm trees.Also, the trend of self-initiated palm tree plantation is increasing day by day.

Considering the versatility and nutritional value of palm fruit and palm tree, the agriculture officer underlined the importance of planting palm saplings every year during the planting season of other trees, mentioning the contribution of palm among domestic fruits.

According to the scientific officers at the DAE, Pabna office, palm trees grow on almost all soils. There is no cost to plant palm seedlings. Just wherever a seed or sapling is planted, it becomes a tree. Especially highways, rural roads, land divider, fallen land, railway lines, banks of canals, riverbanks, ponds are suitable places for palm tree planting.

Dr Kohinur Begum, chief scientific officer of the Physiology and Sugar Chemistry Department of Bangladesh Sugarcane Research Institute in Ishwardi, said in Bangladesh, palm trees have the necessity for their sweet juice and delicious molasses made from the juice.

Palm leaves are widely used in making hand fans, hats and house canopies. The stem of the palm tree is much appreciated. In building brick, tin and thatched houses, palm tree trunks are used which last for a long time.

Palm juice is a favorite summer drink. There is a huge demand for ripe dates in rural Bengal.

Palm pitha is very popular and loved in the rural areas.

Jaggery made from palm juice is sweeter, more nutritious and tastier than sugarcane jaggery.

It contains a lot of iron, calcium, vitamin B and vitamin C. Palm candy (In Bangla, called Talmichhari) is more popular than jaggery made from palm.

So, there is a huge potential for palm cultivation in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh holds a big prospect for making paper from palm leaves in future and palm leaf technology has recently been adopted for this purpose in Chattogram, the officer said.

Pitha, patali, kheer and payesh with palm juice are prominent delicacies.

The soft shell (shash) of young palm is delicious, nutritious and loved by all.

Especially, in the past in villages- kinship could not be imagined without palm cake.

Besides, hand fans of various designs are made from palm leaves. Slats of raw houses are made from palm tree slats.

Palm trees are used in many ways by people of all sections in villages of Bengal.

Palm leaves, fruits and wood are useful in all ways. In sheds, tin houses and buildings, palm wood is used which is very hard and durable for a long time.

The DAE sources specifically mentioned that the number of deaths related to lightning has also increased due to indiscriminate cutting down of palm trees.There is no alternative to palm trees in protecting and beautifying the villages of Bengal.

Since the earliest time, palm trees have played a role in beautification of the villages.

At one time, rows of palm trees were seen adorning the sides of various roads and highways. In the course of time, palm trees have started disappearing from nature.

However, an exquisite scene comes to sight in the vast courtyard of the Bangladesh Sugarcane Research Institute (BSRI) at Ishwardi, adjacent to the Pabna-Ishwardi highway. As soon as one enters the main gate of the BSRI office, he/she can see the beautiful rows of palm trees there. Passers-by are attracted by this mesmerising sight.

Palm trees play a major role in natural calamities (lightning) which is scientifically proven.

It is noted that `the Department of Physiology and Sugar Chemistry of Bangladesh at the Sugarcane Research Institute has developed a simple technique of producing palm seedlings in polybags which has increased palm survival.

From there a large number of seedlings are being supplied across the country. Various organisations including various departments controlled by the government are planting saplings.

Md Mahbubur Rahman, forest officer of Dhaka head office said that the government has realised the necessity of palm trees and emphasised planting palm trees on a large scale. As per the government directives, field level support has been given for date palm seed collection and plantation in the district.

Due to the high presence of antioxidant in palm, it boosts the immune system. In addition, eating palm shells removes liver complications. It contains a lot of iron, calcium, vitamin C and B complex.

Young palm shells are rich in various minerals and vitamins. Young palm kernels are not only delicious but also rich in nutrients.

Dr Kamal Osman of the Department of Medicine, Pabna Medical College, and Dr Kabir Mamun, a dermatologist at Pabna General Hospital, said that palm has various benefits including increasing beauty of skin, cooling the body and strengthening bones.

Juice of young palms helps keep human body dehydrated.

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