Surjapuri mangoes were previously sold purely based on its reputation, without even the need of checking them before purchasing
Thakurgaon's Baliadangi upazila is known to be the origin of Surjapuri mangoes, one of the premium varieties of mangoes produced in the country.
It was well known that mango traders in the neighbouring districts of Dinajpur, and Panchagarh used to get away with selling off inferior quality mangoes as Surjapuri mangoes, as many could not tell the difference. Surjapuri mangoes were sold purely based on its reputation, without even the need of checking them before purchasing.
But since last year, the fall in mango prices has also had an adverse effect on Surjapuri mangoes. This year traders said the price of mangoes was satisfactory, but lack of buyers is affecting their revenue.
Upon investigation, it was found that green Surjapuri mangoes were being sold between Tk50-70 per kg, while ripe Surjapuri was sold between Tk40-50 per kg.
The rates were satisfactory, as compared to last year, traders said, as they were sold between Tk20-30 and Tk10-15 respectively.
According to the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) office in the district, approximately 1,500 orchards are located in Thakurgaon to exclusively produce Surjapuri mangoes, at a stretch of 2,887 hectares. This year 30,000 metric tons of mangoes was produced from the district.
The major variants of mangoes produced, apart from Surjapuri, included Bari-4, Amrupali, and Fazli.
Surjapuri stands out from the others because it is more fragrant, contains a tiny sized seed, and does not rot easily.
Akhtaruzzaman, former Thakurgaon deputy commissioner, had pledged extensive branding campaigns for Surjapuri, but his announcements were not followed up.
Mango traders and orchard owners remarked that they had experienced a low yield this year, as compared to previous year, while they are also facing a tough time in recuperating their production costs this season.
Rafiqul Islam, one such trader, said the wholesale market where he sells his Surjapuri produce has not witnessed a customer in the last few days. Anxious about recovering his expenses, he is worried about repaying the bank loan he took for this season.
Jamal Uddin, a mango farmer of Kashua village of Baliadangi's Palashbari union, said he had grown Surjapuri, Bari-4 and Himsagar mangoes on 100 bigha of land this year.
Its production cost per maund was Tk1,600, he said, but he was not getting customers to purchase his stock for his asking price of Tk1,900-2,200 per maund.
Aftab Hossain, deputy director of Thakurgaon DAE office, said the district is more renowned for cultivating rice and other crops, while fruits such as mangoes are supplementary. As most farmers depend on cash crops, they do not, and should not, rely much on earning from mangoes.