Bumper production of oranges has added extra colour to the natural beauty of the hill district of Rangamati.
Oranges this year are larger in size and sweeter in taste. The gardens at Naniarchar upazila in the district are now full of colourful oranges. With market prices fairly satisfactory this year, orange farmers of Rangamati are eyeing a good profit.
Although oranges are also cultivated in other upazilas of the district, Burighat and Sabekkhong unions under Naniarchar are famous for its cultivation.
During a recent spot visit to Burighat, situated at the border of Naniarchar and Longadu upazilas, this correspondent found the orchards adorned with brightly coloured oranges. In some gardens, branches of orange trees were bent down due to the weight of the fruits. Bamboo poles were inserted to support the branches, in some cases, entire trees themselves.
Owners of the orchards, prepared on hill slopes, are hoping to sell oranges worth Tk5 lakh to Tk10 lakh this year, depending on garden size.
Ranjan Chakma, an orange farmer from Shailachchhari village of the upazila, said, "I hope I will get Tk8 lakh from orange sales this year. Production quantity and fruit size are better this year."
Nipun Chakma, 32, from the same village, said I hope to sell oranges worth Tk4-4.5 lakh as production in my orchard is good this year.
Another orange farmer Dayal Kanti Chakma said that all gardens, not just his own, had witnessed a bumper production of oranges.
Nabojyoti Chakma, from Naba Karbaripara village of the upazila, said that his garden has already had a collection of oranges, and he has sold some in the market.
Hoping for sales of up to Tk2 lakh this year, he urged for more support from the agriculture department to boost production.
Nabojyoti said, "Oranges from Naniarchar start reaching the market once all the oranges produced in other upazilas of Rangamati get sold out. By this time, the colour gets brighter and the taste gets sweeter. Rangamati's oranges are the finest in the country."
"We have to fight against animals, insects and birds to keep the oranges on the tree for as long as we can. We guard the orchards day and night from monkeys, birds, wood cats, butterflies and other insects that damage the oranges," he added.
According to officials from the district agriculture department, adequate rainfall and favorable weather conditions ensured a good yield of oranges this year. There is a huge market demand for oranges during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, so farmers are also getting good prices for their yield.
They maintained that in the orchards, where farmers have taken care of the oranges as per the directives of the Agriculture Department, one orange has weighed 200 to 300 grams.
Paban Kumar Chakma, deputy director of the district Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), said the oranges produced in Burighat and Sabekkhong unions of Naniachar are the largest amongst the gardens of Rangamati.
"This year, the bumper yield of oranges, 9,600 metric tonnes produced on 800 hectares of land in the district, is worth over Tk3.5 crore. Each orange is currently being sold at Tk30-Tk60 in the Rangamati market, depending on size," he added.