By Tilottama Rani Charulata*
Mango, jackfruit, pineapple and latkon are being marketed. The production and supply of litchi has already ended. The importance of these fruits in agricultural economy is very significant. A huge supply of various juicy fruits starts from the beginning of Jaishtha month.
Now, due to the expansion of new technology, there is a large supply of fruits in the market even during the month of Asadha-Shravan. So, the fruit month is now extended. The production of fruits in Bangladesh is about 13 million tons. 50 percent of it is produced between Jayashta and Shravana months. The remaining 50 percent is produced in the remaining 9 months.
Bangladesh is among the top 10 countries in the world in fruit production. For the last 14 years, the growth rate of fruit production in this country has been above 10 percent on an average. The per capita availability of fruits has increased recently due to rapid increase in production. It has reduced Bangladesh’s malnutrition somewhat. However, there is a shortage of fruits.
A total of 72 varieties of fruits are commonly seen in this country. Out of these 9 are major and 63 are minor. Major fruits include – mango, jackfruit, banana, pineapple, papaya, guava, coconut, kul and litchi. They occupy about 79 percent of the land. The remaining 21 percent of the land is cultivated with minor crops. Among the minor fruits that are commonly seen are – safeda, kamaranga, latkon, amra, batabi lemon, kadbel, bel, olive, dates, palm, tamarind, jam, jamrul, amlaki, bangi, watermelon etc.
The rest of the fruits are very little cultivated, which many of us know, and many do not know. Among them are Arborai, Gab, Bileti Gab, Ata, Sharifa, Kaufal, Taikar, Chalta, Dumur, Panifal, Makhna, Bakul, Lukluki, Deua, Karamcha, Katbadam, Golapjam, Mulberry, Manfal etc. Lately some new fruits are also being planted. Rambutan, strawberry, dragon fruit and avocado are among them. With the increase in their production, the price at the consumer level is decreasing.
A few days ago, the price of dragon fruit was 600 rupees per kg. Now it is being sold at 300 taka per kg. Due to increase in production of various fruits within the country, the import of foreign fruits is decreasing. People are buying less apples and grapes and more guavas and plums. Consumers think that desi fruits are free of chemicals and preservatives. Cheap price too. Hence fruit is the main reliance for meeting family needs and entertaining guests.
Mango is one of the main fruits produced in Bangladesh. Aam Para started from May 15. Already early varieties of Guti, Himsagar, Gopalbhog, Mishibhog, Langra etc. mangoes have been harvested. There is not much supply of them in the market now. But now the market in Handibhanga and Amrapali is closed. Fazli mangoes are also coming in the market. Bari Am-4 and Ashwini will come in a few days. Khirsapat mango is recognized as a GI product of Bangladesh.
These mangoes are pulpless and juicy. Very attractive in smell and sweet in taste. Potted mangoes are also very tasty and fiber-free. Earlier, Rajshahi, Chapainawabganj, Naogaon and Natore in North Bengal had good variety and quality mangoes. Now with the expansion of new technology good quality mangoes are being produced all over the country. Good varieties of mangoes are being produced in abundance in various areas of Satkhira and Chittagong Hill Tracts. It is also being exported abroad.
Since last year, the Department of Agricultural Extension has taken up exportable mango production projects. It increases the export of mangoes. Last year in 2022, the amount of mango export was 1 thousand 738 tons. About 17 thousand tons of mangoes have already been exported this time. The export target is 2 thousand 500 tons. This target is expected to be achieved in the next 2 months.
The days of juicy mangoes are gradually coming to an end. Mango production in Bangladesh is about 2.5 million tons. Then there is the banana. Total production is about 3 million tons. There is also jackfruit, the production of which is about 19 lakh tons. The production of papaya, guava and pineapple is about 11 lakh, 5 lakh and 6 lakh tonnes respectively.
We are ranked second in jackfruit production and seventh in mango production in the world. The position of litchi in Bangladesh is also very important in terms of taste and popularity. The total production is about two and a half lakh tons. Now there is no litchi in the market. There are mango and jackfruit. Jackfruit is Bangladesh’s national fruit. Mango is everyone’s favorite and delicious. Traders are less interested in buying mangoes after Eid.
Consumers are also not coming to the market. Small businessmen are ferrying mangoes, jackfruits and pineapples in vans shouting in Oligli of Dhaka. Fruit production is good this time. But fruit growers are now very worried. Whether it will be possible to sell the produced fruits or not, whether the cost of the garden will come up or not — all this has become their concern. Seasonal fruits have to be marketed immediately after ripening and ripening.
Among them, mango, pineapple and jackfruit have to be marketed on an urgent basis. Otherwise there is a greater risk of rotting. Usually about 30 to 35 percent of seasonal fruits are wasted. This time, the wastage may exceed 40 percent due to the slow pace of marketing.
In the current full season of marketing of farmers’ produce, the Bangladesh Agricultural Marketing Department, Hortex Foundation, Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation (BRTC) and other related organizations of the government can buy mangoes, jackfruit and pineapples from the farm edges of important production areas and market them in various divisional and district cities of the country including Dhaka.
Mangoes can also be distributed as relief to poor people. Apart from that, arrangements can be made to transport trucks from Naogaon, Satkhira, Gazipur, Brahmanbaria’s Vijayanagar and hilly districts under the initiative of BRTC. Special train service may be operational for mango transport for the next 2 months. Lately mangoes are also being sold online. But it is losing reputation due to negligence of courier service.
Therefore, individual transport of mangoes by road should be encouraged. Besides, large companies engaged in processing and preserving mangoes and other seasonal fruits can increase their purchases to protect farmers from falling prices and wastage of fruits. Apart from that, the fruit growers of the country can be covered under government incentive package.
Bangladesh earns huge amount of foreign exchange by exporting fruits. This income is increasing rapidly year after year. Bangladesh’s seasonal fruits are already being exported to UK, Germany, Italy, France, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, Bahrain and Oman. Exported fruits include mango, jackfruit, lemon, cardamom, lemon, kul, satkara, amra, betel nut, olive, guava and banana.
The demand for these abroad is increasing day by day. In the coming days, there is a bright possibility of exporting Bangladeshi fruits to other countries of the world including China, Malaysia, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, USA, Belgium and Netherlands. Bangladesh mangoes are being exported to various countries in Europe and Middle East since last 5 years. Farmers in Rajshahi and Satkhira invest a lot of money and following good agricultural practices are producing exportable mangoes. Its production cost and selling price are high.
Apart from exporting them abroad, the super markets of Bangladesh can take responsibility for the marketing of high-quality mangoes. In the financial year 2021-22, the amount of fruit export from Bangladesh was 5.29 million US dollars. This time it has reduced to one million US dollars.
The global financial crisis, high inflation, Russia-Ukraine war disrupting the market system and tightening export incentives for fruits and other agricultural products in Bangladesh have reduced fruit exports this year. It is expected that the international market of Bangladeshi fruits will go up in the next 2-3 years.
A special topic now is mango diplomacy. In the past, mangoes from Bangladesh went as gifts to India, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Middle East. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has taken this initiative. Gift mangoes have already been sent to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. West Bengal and India are tested friends of Bangladesh.
India was Bangladesh’s main ally and helper in the Great War of Independence. They helped Bangladesh freedom fighters by training them, giving them arms and other equipment. Their soldiers fought shoulder to shoulder with the freedom fighters, to drive out the invading Pakistani troops. Many have sacrificed themselves. Apart from that, about 1 crore refugees have been given shelter and food. This responsibility will remain with us forever.
Millions of Bangladeshis are currently working in the Middle East. Most of Bangladesh’s foreign exchange earnings come as remittances from Middle Eastern countries. Bangladesh’s mango gift to those countries will strengthen brotherhood and soul ties. Among those countries are Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Jordan and Oman.
Bangladesh fruits and vegetables are the most exported to all those countries. The mango gift there will also expand the tide of export. It is everyone’s wish that Bangladesh’s mango diplomacy becomes stronger and more meaningful in the international arena.
*Independent researcher from Bangladesh, lives in Canada