Matiur Rahman had every reason to be happy about the bumper yield of litchis from his more than 600 trees this year. But his happiness soon turned into a nightmare as he failed to market his produce.
The fruit grower from Biral upazila in Dinajpur incurred a loss of Tk2 lakh.
“This season has brought us sufferings only,” said Matiur. “Last year, 100 litchis of special varieties like Bedana or China were sold at Tk500 to Tk1,000 while this year they are selling at Tk100 to Tk200.”
Summer fruit growers like Matiur in Dinajpur have faced huge losses this year because of low prices. Although they have had good yields of fruits, they have not got good price due to poor marketing channel, they said.
Many of them said they could not even meet the production cost.
They said Ramadan and Eid holidays caused low demand for fruits in the market. A large quantity of litchis and mangoes perished in the warehouses.
Both growers and wholesalers have counted severe losses.
Rawshan Ali from Dinajpur Sadar upazila, who owns a fruit orchard, said, “Litchis got rotten in the market ahead of Eid-u-Fitr as there were not enough wholesalers and customers.”
He said many harvesters did not even pluck litchis from the trees.
Narayan Chandra, a trader of Kalitala wholesale market in Dinajpur, said, “Every year a large number of traders come to this market to collect various types of summer fruits, especially litchis and mangoes. This season, however, there were very few traders and vendors as almost every district generated good harvest of the fruits.”
Abdul Ahad, a seasonal fruit seller in Dhaka, said he used to buy litchis from the local market and sell in the capital city. Unfortunately, this year he could not make expected profits because of the lack of demand from customers.
One hundred pieces of Bombay litchis are selling at Tk50 to Tk100 this year.
The prices of different varieties of mango are also extremely lower than the last season, said many harvesters and traders.
Mangoes of different varieties such as Gopalbhog, Mishirbhog and Chatapora are being sold at Tk25 to Tk30 per kilogram only.
Prof Dr Bidhan Chandra Ray of horticulture department of Haji Mohammad Danesh Science and Technology University pointed out three main reasons for the price fall of these seasonal fruits: bumper production creating an overflow of supply in the market, slower demand during Ramadan when litchis were fully ripe, and commercial cultivation of litchis and mangoes in other districts that produced additional supplies.
He said our fruits could have places in the foreign market and for this the government needs to search for better markets abroad.
“Meanwhile, we should find out a feasible way to preserve the summer fruits so that the growers and traders do not have to dump their yields,” he added.
Orchard owners and traders have also demanded that the government take effective steps to preserve the seasonal fruits in specialised cold storages.
According to the Department of Agriculture Extension, around 30 lakh tonnes of litchis were cultivated on 5,281 hectares of land this year while about 85,576 tonnes of mangoes were cultivated on 5,106 hectares of land.