- 21 lakh guava trees in the district
- Guavas are cultivated on 12 thousand acres of land
- 10 thousand people are involved in the guava industry
- 25 to 30 percent of the guavas may have rotted by this time
- Guavas are cultivated on 27,581 hectares of land
- Guava market in the country is Tk1,700 crore
- 2,36,881 tonnes of guavas produced in the country in 2018-19
Due to the shortage of buyers caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and lack of cold storage facilities for preservation, guava farmers of Chattogram are in great trouble as one-third of the guavas produced are rotting in the orchards. Guava sales outside the district have also declined due to rising transportation costs amid the pandemic. Even though a few guavas are sold, the farmers are not getting a good price for them, as a result, they fear making a loss.
Afjan Mia of Chandnaish in Chattogram has planted guavas on 16 acres of land. Guavas produced in his garden are supplied to different places of the country including Feni, Cumilla, Noakhali, Dhaka besides Chattogram. Although he saw a profit every year, he is not able to properly market the guavas produced this time.
Every year, traders used to buy guavas before the season starts, but this time the situation is worse. "I am struggling to pay the workers with what is being sold," he added.
According to the District Agriculture Extension Department, there are 21 lakh guava trees in Chattogram on the hills in different upazilas including Patia, Chandnaish, Banshkhali, Lohagara and Boalkhali, Sitakunda. An average of 15 tonnes of guavas are produced per hectare. The district produces 75,000 tonnes of guava every year.
In Chattogram, two varieties of guavas, namely Kazi and Kanchannagar, are cultivated the most. Guavas are available in the market from July to October every year. During the season, about 10,000 people are employed by collecting guavas from the orchards, bringing them to the market, retailing and wholesale.
Akhtaruzzaman, deputy director of Chattogram district agriculture department, admitted that the guavas produced were rotting due to the crisis caused by Covid-19 and the lack of a government cold storage facility to preserve the perishable fruit. There is a possibility that 25 to 30 percent of the guavas will rot this time.
During the season, wholesale guava markets are set up at seven places including Dohazari, Bagicha, Khan, Kanchannagar, Badamtal, Roshan and Kamal Munsir haat along the Chattogram-Cox's Bazar highway. Buyers come from far and wide to buy guavas from these markets and deliver them to remote areas of the country by truck.
This time, a dozen large guavas are being sold at Tk80-90, medium-sized guavas at Tk50-60 and small-sized guavas at Tk35-40.
Last year, large size guavas were sold at Tk90-100, medium-sized guavas at Tk60-70 and small-sized guavas at Tk40-50.
Kamal Uddin, a guava grower in Patia, told The Business Standard that traders buy guavas from the orchards at normal times, but this time he cannot sell guava even after taking them to the market. So many guavas are rotting on the trees. He has given up hope of profit this year.
Chattogram guavas, which are rich in flavour and quality, and are produced without chemical fertilisers and pesticides, are appreciated all over the country. Guava varieties produced in Chattogram are sweeter and have comparatively fewer seeds.
Demand for guavas has grown significantly in local markets as it is rich in vitamin C. Seven plants have already been set up in different parts of the country to make guava juice. However, no plant has been developed in Chattogram yet.
Guava farmers in the region would have benefited if a plant had been set up in Chattogram to make guava juice. However, no one has taken such an initiative in the port city yet. Efforts are being made to build a cold storage facility. If that happens, the farmers will benefit a bit, said Akhtaruzzaman.
According to the Department of Agricultural Extension, guavas are cultivated on 27,581 hectares of land in different parts of the country. The guava market in the country is Tk1,700 crore. And in the 2018-19 financial year, 2,36,881 tonnes of guava were produced in the country.