Farmers of Dhamrai upazila in Dhaka are increasingly inclined to cultivate lemons as the cultivation cost is low but they can make a handsome amount of profit. Lemons grow well in Dhamrai, due to favourable weather, and wholesalers' demand for the lemons is high because of the well-developed communication with the capital.
According to the Dhamrai Upazila Agriculture Office, lemons are cultivated mostly in eight unions of the upazila – Balia, Amta, Baishakanda, and Chauhat – on 752 hectares of land. This year, the production target is about 8,000 tonnes. Lemons produced in Dhamrai meet the demand of wholesale markets in Kawran Bazar, Shyambazar and Jatrabari after meeting the demand of the local market.
Dhamrai Upazila Agriculture Officer Ariful Hasan said about 2,000 farmers of the upazila have benefited from lemon cultivation. Lemons can be sold as soon as they are harvested.
About 2,000 farmers of the upazila have benefited from lemon cultivation. Lemons can be sold as soon as they are harvested
The annual expenditure of a lemon farmer is about Tk80,000 per acre including the cost of: preparing the land, sowing seedlings, applying fertiliser, the labourer cost, etc. From the age of two, a lemon tree bears fruits and continues to yield fruit for 10 to 12 years.
On average, lemons can be harvested eight times a year, around 20,000 lemons per harvest or 1.6 lakh lemons a year. At the current market price, the wholesale market price of each lemon is Tk4. As such, lemons worth Tk6.4 lakh are sold annually from one acre of land.
Farmers of Dhamrai upazila sell lemons in three ways. First, once the seedlings of the lemon tree start yielding, a lemon orchard is sold to wholesalers at an annual rate of Tk1-1.5 lakh. Secondly, many farmers sell lemons in the capital's markets. Thirdly, farmers sell lemons to wholesalers at haats (a market, often held regularly in a rural area) held in eight unions during lemon season.
Sohel Rana, from Balia Purbapara area of Dhamrai, graduated in Economics from Dhaka College in 2012. Since he did not get a job as per the demand, he started lemon farming. He cultivated lemons on nine acres of land this season. He said though the floods have caused a lot of damage to the orchards he will see a profit of at least Tk13 lakh if the market price of lemons remains normal.
Another farmer, Abdur Rahim, from the same area said he planted lemons on four acres of land this season. He has purchased another five acres of the lemon orchards from local farmers at Tk5 lakh. He hoped the overall profit would be double as the market price of lemons is good this season.
Abdul Halim, a farmer from Baisakanda area, said as it takes two years to get lemons from a tree he cultivates vegetables in a lemon orchard, which recovers the cost of sowing lemon seedlings. Two years after a lemon yield starts, orchards can be sold to wholesalers. Then there is no cost as the wholesalers are responsible for taking care of the lemon orchards.
The demand for Dhamrai lemons is high at the capital's wholesale markets. That is why I buy lemons directly from farmers in different areas in the upazila
Akmal Hossain, a wholesaler, said the demand for Dhamrai lemons is high at the capital's wholesale markets. That is why he buys lemons directly from farmers in different areas in the upazila. Every day, trucks loaded with lemons from these areas go to various wholesale markets in the capital; they do not have to worry about transportation after buying lemons.
One crate – with between 6,000-6,500 lemons – of medium quality lemons are purchased from the local markets for Tk22,000-23,000. They can then be sold on the wholesale market for Tk26,000-27,000. Low-quality lemons are cheaper, he added.
Amjad Bepari, a lemon trader, said he has been involved in buying lemons from Balia and Amta and selling them at Dhaka's market for a long time. Farmers in these areas keep lemons at a specific place for display and the wholesalers determine the market price according to the type of lemon.
As the farmers are known to them, they often purchase on credit and pay the farmers after selling the lemons at markets in the capital, he added.