Bumper litchi yield could make Mohammad Motaher Hossain happy this season. However, he feels just the opposite, as the profits he got from the selling of the produce was not up to his expectation owing to low prices of the fruit.
The case was more grieving for Imam Ali, who took a land on lease for growing litchis in Dinajpur. Compared to his profit of Taka 50,000 last year, he had to incur a loss of Tk. 4,000 this year.
Many farmers in this northern district – widely known for producing juicy and fleshy litchis -- did not bother to pluck the ripe fruits as they knew for sure they would not get a fair price in the market.
After incurring massive losses in the peak season with optimal production, the farmers now urges the government to establish a couple of ‘specialized cold storage’ for the preservation of this seasonal fruit.
Litchi has been cultivated this season in about 5,281 hectors of land in Dinajpur, the most productive gardens being located in Biral Upazila, followed by gardens in Chirir Bandar and Dinajpur Sadar Upazila.
In past couple of years, a good number of litchi traders from across the country came to Dinajpur and visited even the remotest gardens to purchase huge amount of this juicy fruit. However, this year their visits to the district have been few and far between as many of them visited other surrounding litichi producing districts.
Terming this trend as the major reason for price fall, horticulturalist Dr. Bidhan Chandra Haldar said that the commercial production of litchi has spread to neighbouring areas/districts such as Ishwardi, Pabna, Magura, Rangpur, Thakurgaon and Panchagargh.
“These fruits are easily available to Vendors and traders throughout the country,” the teacher of Hajee Mohammad Danesh Science & Technology University, Dinajpur, told The Business Standard. Besides, most of the litchi trees that were only saplings two decades back are now mature enough to yield more and more fruits, noted the professor.
Towhidul Iqbal, Deputy Director of Agriculture Extension Directorate, opined that litchi production has increased over the last two years because of favourable weather.
Furthermore, the holy month of Ramadan took place during summer this year. According to Dr. Bidhan Chandra Haldar, while fasting people consumed far less of this seasonal fruit than what they would have, if not fasting.
Build specialized cold storage: farmers urge govt
While talking on the issue Litchi garden owners and traders raised their voice, urging for direct intervention of the government to ensure fair prices for all seasonal fruits.
They urged the government to establish a couple of specialized cold storages so as to store seasonal fruits when market prices for the produces remain low. As the harvesting season passes, the traders should be allowed to bring the fruits in the market to maximise their profit.
While agreeing with the farmers, Professor Bidhan Chandra Halder said that government also can take measures for establishing industry for producing juice, jelly and jam from such succulent fruits during the bumper yielding.