Every year, urban populations enjoy varieties of seasonal fruits – including mango, litchi, jackfruit, pineapple, jaam, guava, and lotkon – but this time the situation is different due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
Fruit growers in the Rangpur and Rajshahi regions, as well as retailers at Dhaka markets, said as sales of seasonal fruits are much lower in the capital; fruit growers are not getting their desired price even after producing large quantities of the fruits.
Due to the virus' outbreak, the income of many people has reduced and many of them have returned to their village homes.
Sabbir Alam Sarkar, a mango farmer of Rajshahi, said farmers sell mangoes from gardens in two ways. They deliver mangoes directly to couriers, as per the orders of buyers, and send mangoes to large wholesalers in Dhaka – on condition of receiving payment after sales.
Himsagar mango is sold at Tk95 per kilogramme, including courier costs, to the direct buyer. If sold to the wholesaler, farmers get Tk45-55 per kilogramme, he added.
Sabbir Alam Sarkar said, "As the number of direct buyers is half that of last year we are being compelled to send mangoes to wholesalers. The money they are paying is Tk10-20 less per kilogramme than last year."
Mango farmers in Rajshahi said though Himsagar mangoes are now at the end of their season; Laxman bhog mangoes are being harvested in large quantities.
If they sell these mangoes to wholesalers, they can go for Tk25-30 per kilogramme, depending on quality, excluding all expenses. Last year this variety of mango was sold at Tk40 kilogramme, they added.
Delwar Rahman, a trader, said, "This year I have received orders to send mangoes directly to Dhaka by courier less than one-third the quantity of such orders last year. Additionally, the price is a bit lower because of there being fewer buyers."
At various markets in Dhaka, different varieties of mangoes are sold at Tk70-110 per kilogramme. As the price of Amrapali mangoes is a bit lower, a few more customers buy them.
Md Rubel, a private employee while buying mangoes at Rampura Bazar, said, "I work at a private company and got half my salary last month. So, my family's mango consumption has to be reduced due to affordability."
Nasir Uddin, an Amrapali mango vendor, said, "I sold one-and-a-half maunds of mangoes a day last year. This time 25-30 kilogrammes of mango have not been sold either. "
During visits to the fruit markets, this correspondent saw that litchi sold for Tk320-350 as before. Jackfruits were sold for between Tk60 and Tk200 depending on size. Lotkon was sold at Tk120-150 per kilogramme, pineapple at Tk25-40 per piece and jaam at Tk90-110 per kilogramme.
The Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) said this year, mango orchards are being cultivated of 1.89 lakh hectares of land, mostly in the: Rajshahi, Naogaon, Chapainawabganj, Satkhira, Natore, Gazipur, and Chattogram Hill Tracts districts.
Litchi orchards are on 32,000 hectares of land – mostly in the Rajshahi, Dinajpur, Pabna, Gazipur and Chattogram Hill Tracts districts. Jackfruits are grown on 71,700 hectares of land and the lion's share of pineapple is produced in Tangail.