Bananas produced in Rangamati are in high demand because of their quality and are supplied to different parts of the country.
Farmers in the hill district are bringing more and more lands under banana cultivation as they have found it profitable.
According to the Department of Agriculture, bananas worth Tk300 crore are sold in the district every year.
In the 2019-20 financial year, bananas were planted on 11,775 hectares of land in the district and the production target was set at 215,250 tonnes.
In the previous year, the production target was 211,245 tonnes while 11,557 hectares of land were used for cultivation.
Among the bananas the region produces, two varieties stand out – one known as Bangla Kola (locally known as Kattoli Kola), and the other as Chapa Kola (locally known as Chompa Kola).
Because of the high level of nutrients, Bangla Kola is sold at a higher price than Chapa Kola.
Although bananas are available round-the-year, the yield is more from August to October. The bananas available during this period are larger in size as well.
Banana traders from different areas of the country crowd the banana markets in Rangamati to buy bananas at a wholesale price.
The district ensures a steady supply of bananas to different parts of the country, including Chattogram, Cumilla and Dhaka.
Md Jamal is a banana trader from Cumilla. He comes to Samataghat banana market in the district town to buy bananas.
He said he takes bananas from Rangamati and supplies them to Dhaka, Chattogram and Cumilla throughout the year.
"There is more demand for bananas produced in the hilly areas. Besides, the prices of bananas increase every year, and this year is no exception. I just bought bananas for Tk1,000 to Tk2,000 per bunch (at least 100 pieces)," he said.
In some areas, the bunches of bananas are so big that they have to be bought for Tk5/6 thousand, he added.
Rafiq Uddin, a businessman from Chattogram, said there was a big difference between bananas grown in the plains and those grown in the hills.
You don't have to wait to sell the bananas from Rangamati, he added.
A number of traders buy gardens on contract and take care of them. Such contract farming brings them a reasonable profit.
Mohammad Ismail is one such contract farmer. He said he hopes to sell bananas worth Tk6 lakh this year. He had a contract-based orchard in Baghaichhari Marisya that cost him Tk2 lakh.
Tapan Kumar Pal, deputy director of the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) in Rangamati, said, different varieties of bananas are planted in the hills.
"As pesticides are not used in banana cultivation in this area, the fruits are nutritious. The skin of all these bananas is thick. So there is no difficulty in transportation. Besides, the bananas are available round-the-year," he said.
According to the Department of Agriculture, banana yields have been better this year than in the last year.
Pobon Kumar Chakma, deputy director of the DAE, said the Chapa Kola and Bangla Kola grow well on the hills. Besides, all these bananas grow without any proper care.
"Only clearing the parasites and cutting down dead leaves is enough for the cultivation," he added.