Growers of mango have experienced bumper harvest this season, but still they are frustrated over low market price compared to that of the recent years.
Mango prices, irrespective of varieties, never went below Taka 30 per kilogram in recent years. Mango was sold at Taka 100 per kilogram even two years back. But a maund (40 kilograms) of quality mango is nowadays on sale at only Taka 600-800 in mango-producing markets of Rajshahi and Chapainawabganj. To make matters worse, mango is weighed at 45 kilogram per maund in the wholesale market instead of the regular 40 kilogram per maund for other commodities.
The Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) has identified the sudden rise in daily temperature as the main reason behind sharp fall in the prices of mangoes amid a supply glut. Since mangoes of all varieties started to ripen at the same time, the mango farmers are in an awkward position with little scope to pluck all varieties of the fruit within a short span of time.
According to a recent FE report, mangoes were scheduled to be plucked from the trees from May 20 to July 01 this year. But quality mango varieties like Gopalbhog, Khirsapati, Himsagar and Laxmanbhog did not ripen in time due to a comparatively low temperature. Plucking of Langra variety was also delayed, although it was supposed to flood the market after June 06.
Besides, sale of mango also remained dull due to observance of fasting during the holy month of Ramadan in June. Prolonged Eid vacation was another reason, as the mango growers could not hire labourers for plucking mangoes and most transports and courier services also remained closed due to the vacation. Hence, mangoes could not be sent outside the production zone during this crucial period, and hundreds of tons of mangoes ended up grounded in the orchards.
Leaving aside the question of making money in the form of profit, the mango farmers are now faced with the tricky task of recouping their production cost amid low price, on top of which remain the costs of labour and transport. Although the concerned department has a marketing wing in place, it remains anyone's guess as to how functional and helpful it is in upholding the cause of the thousands of mango farmers.
Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute, DAE's Horticulture wing and Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics data show that growers produced 1.29 million tons of mangos in 2016-17, up from 1.16 million tons during the previous year. And production is estimated to have increased by 5.0-7.0 per cent this year. Mangoes were grown in a total of 17,463 hectares of land this year, which was 16,961 hectares during the previous year. The juicy summer fruit is now commercially grown in 23 districts, a rise from barely 12 only 13 years ago. The domestic market is roughly estimated to have a value of Taka 55 billion.
As the demand for mango is increasing day by day in the local and international markets, the value chain system should be maintained properly. Apart from specifying the harvesting time-frame in selected mango-growing areas, traders also recommend setting up of mango ripening/processing plants in the country. Ripening the fruit in a scientific way will give the growers an extra edge in their bid to ensure supply of better quality mango. It will also help produce export-quality mangoes - thereby bettering the chance of an increased volume of export.
Providing easy bank loans for the interested growers can also be a very effective idea for enabling them to set up mango processing plants. Awareness should be raised among the mango growers in order to help them use modern technology. Besides, the government needs to come up with a guideline for the mango growers, traders and exporters on an urgent basis for helping with required policy support. In fact, the country, which is now the seventh largest mango-producer in the world, needs to adopt safe and efficient mango harvesting-cum-marketing practices in order to sustain its successes in the days to come.
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