Litchi growers, farmers and traders of Dinajpur – well-known as the litchi state – are frustrated by not getting their desired price due to lack of appropriate initiatives.
To get the desired price of litchi, it is necessary to export litchis abroad, create a processing industry and build storage facilities – as the price of litchi has continued to fall over the past few years, said agronomists, farmers and traders.
Sirajul Islam, a farmer of Biral upazila, said litchi farmers are not getting good prices as the number of buyers is low and not enough litchis are being supplied to different places due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
"If the government does not take steps to preserve and market litchi, good prices will not be available in the coming years," said Sirajul.
Selim Reza, a farmer from Sadar Upazila, said if litchi could be preserved, this fruit could be marketed off-season. Then, higher prices will be available.
So, the farmers demanded timely actions from the authorities concerned to get a fair price for their produce.
Dinajpur Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) said a proposal has been sent to the higher authorities to set up a storage and litchi processing industry. Additionally, there is a plan to export litchis abroad.
Dinajpur DAE Deputy Director Touhidul Iqbal admitted that litchi farmers are not getting the desired price now due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
Proposals have been made to the higher authorities to set up litchi-related food products, storage and processing industries, he said.
Pradeep Kumar Guha, Deputy Director of Dinajpur Horticulture Center, also said if there is a storage facility, it will be possible to store litchis. If litchi is processed in the same way as fruits are processed in different countries, litchi will be available off-season.
"For this, not only the government, but also the private sector has to come forward."
A proposal has already been put forward to set up a litchi storage facility in the economic zone to be set up in Dinajpur, he also said.
Harun-ur-Rashid, president of the Hili Land Port Import-Export Group, said Litchi production is low in India, so there is great demand for litchi.
Additionally, the high quality litchi of Dinajpur has a lot of potential for export to India. Moreover, varying amounts of litchi are being produced in other districts.
"We have been holding discussions in various forums, including the Indian High Commission, for a long time to export litchi. However, they are yet to show any interest in importing litchi from Bangladesh," he said.
Official initiatives are needed to be taken to make the Indian authorities interested. This will increase the revenue earning and litchi farmers will get good prices as well, he added.
Agronomist Touhidul Iqbal said a decision has yet to be taken on litchi exports to India as the conservation capacity of this fruit is much lower.
"However, we are optimistic about litchis. We will decide on this in the future. The price of litchi will increase if it is exported abroad with a cooling van."
He said the litchi processing industry is necessary. If entrepreneurs come forward to produce food products related to litchi, farmers, traders and the government will benefit.
Dinajpur DAE said there are litchi orchards in about five thousand hectares of land in this district. Litchi production in the district reached 50,000 to 60,000 tonnes.