Home Health Tk 10b seasonal fruits perishing yearly in BD
Health - June 16, 2021

Tk 10b seasonal fruits perishing yearly in BD

Need to set up regional cold storage: GEF

Mahfuja Mukul: More than 5.5 million tons of seasonal fruits are being perished every year in Bangladesh which incur loss of over Tk 10 billion (Tk 1000 crore), mainly lack of cold storage and preserver. Of the fruits, 70 percent perished in hilly areas.
The Chittagong Hill Tracts is becoming a seasonal fruit hub with immense potential for the development of a food processing sector. Last year the CHT produced nearly 14 lakh tonnes of fruit, officials said, while a decade ago production in the region was 6 lakh tonnes.
Fruit is grown on 77,000 hectares of land, up from 45,000 hectares in 2002.
“There is a fruit revolution in the hill tracts,” said Md Asadullah, director general of the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) in Dhaka. Over 40 fruit varieties grow in the region, with litchis, jackfruit, mangoes, watermelons and bananas the most plentiful.
The government has promoted fruit production in the CHT since independence, but the opening of horticulture centres and implementation of a large-scale government project from 2001 played a critical role.
President of Global Economist Forum (GEF) told that the government should set up regional cold storage and preserver for the greater interest of the remote area farmers, especially in hill tract districts.
Through the project the government distributed free amropali, litchi, olive and orange saplings, and after the project ended in 2006, saplings were provided at low cost, officials said.
Ajit Talukder, a farmer in Wagga, Rangamati, said he started an orchard after the DAE gave him 1200 mango, litchi and olive saplings in 2002. “I earned Tk 15 lakh in the last five years,” he told.
Many, however, have expressed dismay over the absence of food processing industries and poor road communications.
“Had there been some fruit processing industries, more farmers would produce fruit,” said SM Emdadul Haque. Better roads could facilitate product transport, he noted.
Hundreds of hills remain fallow and cultivating them could make Bangladesh a fruit exporter, he said.
The Chittagong Hill Tracts is becoming a seasonal fruit hub with immense potential for the development of a food processing sector.
Last year the CHT produced nearly 14 lakh tonnes of fruit, officials said, while a decade ago production in the region was 6 lakh tonnes.
Fruit is grown on 77,000 hectares of land, up from 45,000 hectares in 2002.
“There is a fruit revolution in the hill tracts,” said Md Asadullah, director general of the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) in Dhaka.
Over 40 fruit varieties grow in the region, with litchis, jackfruit, mangoes, watermelons and bananas the most plentiful.
The government has promoted fruit production in the CHT since independence, but the opening of horticulture centres and implementation of a large-scale government project from 2001 played a critical role.
Through the project the government distributed free amropali, litchi, olive and orange saplings, and after the project ended in 2006, saplings were provided at low cost, officials said.
Ajit Talukder, a farmer in Wagga, Rangamati, said he started an orchard after the DAE gave him 1200 mango, litchi and olive saplings in 2002. “I earned Tk 15 lakh in the last five years,” he told.
Many, however, have expressed dismay over the absence of food processing industries and poor road communications.
“Had there been some fruit processing industries, more farmers would produce fruit,” said SM Emdadul Haque. Better roads could facilitate product transport, he noted.
Hundreds of hills remain fallow and cultivating them could make Bangladesh a fruit exporter, he said.
A banana farmer carries his produce to a selling point beside Bandarban-Chimbuk highway in Bandarban. Around two-thirds of the people who live near the highways in the CHT region are engaged in growing fruits and vegetables, according to government officials. The high-return investment in fruit and vegetable orchards has attracted many hill people in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, who are now moving away from the traditional jhum cultivation.
“I changed my cultivation pattern and started growing an orchard, and it gave the kind of affluence which I never dreamed of before,” Paiya said. Fruits and vegetable orchards are now a common sight on the hills of the three CHT districts – Bandarban, Rangamati and Khagrachhari, home to around 1.6 million people according to the 2011 census.
Sing Klang, the 52-year-old “karbari” (chief) of Tonkaboti area near Ruma Bazar in Bandarban, said 126 families in four villages in the area were engaged in fruit and vegetable farming because they bring in money. Fruits and vegetables grown in the CHT find market 150km away in Chittagong, and sometimes 400km away in Dhaka.
Papayas, mangoes and bananas are three major fruits that come in large volume to the capital from the hill districts, especially in the last few years, said Md Abul Hossain, owner of Sabuj Fruit Traders, a wholesaler at Karwan Bazar, Dhaka. “Fruits from the hill districts are a recent addition to the country’s fruit business,” he said. “I have been engaged in this business for the last 10 years. The volume of CHT fruits is increasing in the market [in Dhaka]. I sell papaya all year, and a major portion of my produce comes from Bandarban alone. This year, I have collected Tk 4 crore worth of papaya from Bandarban.”
How it all started
Since 1996, both the government and some NGOs have been promoting fruit and vegetable farming to the hill people to improve their income and living standard. “Our main objective of promoting fruit cultivation was to make the hill districts more productive,” said Jahangir Alam, project director of Chittagong Hill District Development Board. Currently, two-thirds of the CHT population living close to the roads has engaged themselves in fruit farming, which is a great sign of economic empowerment, he added. “It is more difficult for people who live far from the highways, because communication is harder and they have little to no market access,” he said.
Better economy
Prenja Mro, 15-year-old son of Paiya, goes to a boarding school in Khulna. This would not have been possible if Paiya had not started growing fruits eight years ago. “I am able to provide good education to my children now. My son Prenja has been going to school in Khulna for four years because there are no good schools here,” Paiya told this reporter. Each month, Paiya sends Tk 2,000 to his son to pay tuition fees and other costs. “In total, I spend Tk 30,000 for my elder son’s schooling every year,” said a proud Paiya.
It was said at the meeting that mangoes have been cultivated on 189,000 hectares of land this year and the expected production has been 2,232,000 tonnes. Litchis have been planted on about 32,000 hectares of land and the expected production is 232,000 tonnes.

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