Almost all the mango trees in Chapainawabganj have already bloomed this year due to favourable weather, but growers are not happy as they are apprehending that they would have to incur huge losses this year like the last two years due to restriction on harvesting time.
Growers said wholesalers were not showing interest in buying mango orchards because many traders were not even able to recover the investment let alone make any profit in previous years.
Local sources said cultivators of Chapainawabganj which was considered as the capital of mango in Bangladesh were passing busy time in nourishing orchards of Nengra, Fazli, Gopalbogh, Khirsapat and Mohanbhog, but they are very much worried over plucking restriction as many traders in last year imported the sweet fruits from India for late harvest in the northern districts.
Major varieties of mangoes – Nengra, Gopalbhog and Khirshapat – matured at the same time due to the heat and had to be harvested quickly causing the supply to be greater than the demand, said many mango growers.
According to Department of Agricultural Extension Department, there are 18,58,770 mango trees on 24,460 hectares land in the five upazilas of the district.
In total, there are about 4.5m fruit-giving mango trees of different ages and varieties on over 35,000 hectares in the northern districts and the number are continuously increasing every year following expansion of commercial mango cultivation in Rajshahi region.
This year, the DAE has set a target to produce 2.50 lakh tonnes of mangoes from these mango trees.
Last year, the government imposed a ban on harvesting mangoes before June 1 to ensure chemical-free mangoes. Then, mangoes began to ripe early because of the heat spells, but growers could not pluck those due to the ban.
In 2014, farmers of the northern region also counted huge losses due to back-to-back blockades and strike enforced by the BNP-led 20 alliance demanding election under an impartial government.
Different organisations such as Kansat Mango Traders Samity, Bholahat Mango Foundation, Chapainawabganj Chamber of Commerce have already placed their objection over restriction on mango plucking.
Mozammel Haque Chutu, general secretary of Bholahat Mango Foundation, said if the government set any time for plucking mangoes, they would wage a movement against it.
He said they had already started exchanging views with local Mps, DAE officials and mango traders to find out a way in this regard.
President of Chapainawabganj Chamber of Commerce Abdul Wahed told the Dhaka Tribune that a section of vested quarter was hatching conspiracy to destroy market of mangoes.
“We are keeping contact with different forums such as agriculture ministry and Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industries so that growers would not have to count losses.”
Monirul Islam, president of Mango Producer Association, told the Dhaka Tribune that last year mobile courts conducted drives at different places of the district but they could not find any formalin-laced mangoes as growers of the district run their business with honesty.
“Many orchards are yet to be sold as traders are not interest to invest in the sector fearing losses,” Kazi Emdadul Haque, a wholesale mango trader at Kansat Bazar.
Researcher of Fruit Research Centre Dr Sarof Uddin said” “There is no fix time for plucking mangoes, it depends on weather. So the government should not set any time for plucking the juicy fruits.
Deputy Director of the DAE told the Dhaka Tribune that they would take decision over harvesting mangoes after considering situation as mango ripes naturally.
Moreover, Md Jahidul Islam, deputy commissioner, told the Dhaka Tribune that they would take a decision considering mango traders situation. “Loss of mango traders is not expected to anyone,” he added.