The ongoing lockdown is affecting mango trading in Chapainawabganj, a major mango-producing hub in the country.
Both the farmers and traders involved in commercial mango farming are in trouble over getting back their investments, fearing an extension of the lockdown.On Monday, the local administration has put Chapainawabganj district under a seven-day strict lockdown due to a surge in Covid-19 cases.
“The measure came after the district, which shares borders with West Bengal, reported an alarming 55 per cent infection rate,” Deputy Commissioner of the district Monjurul Hafeez said at a press briefing on Monday. He described the virus situation in the district as “severe.”
He implied that the Indian variant of the virus might be responsible for the surge.
“The Indian variant may have spread in the district despite ensuring a 14-day institutional quarantine for all India returnees.”
The strict lockdown means no transports can either enter or leave the district during the lockdown and all forms of inter-district communications will also remain halted except emergency vehicles.
Mango traders in this district are facing huge losses due to the lockdown as trading of local Gopalbhog mangoes has already started in the market.Mango traders and farmers said due to the lockdown there are no buyers in the markets and wholesalers from other districts can’t visit the mango-producing areas.
Gopalbhog mangoes have started ripening and it is not possible to keep them longer on trees.
However, the agriculture department said that there is no restriction in mango trading.
Traders may transport mangoes out of the district, maintaining health guidelines, the department officials said.
Johnny Ali, a mango trader, said he brought around 200 kg of Gopalbhog mangoes to trade in the market on Wednesday, but could not sell a single kg due to the absence of buyers.
Another trader Mohammad Shaju said he has leased a garden with 300 mango trees in Betbaria village of Sadar upazilas at a cost of Tk 4 lakh. He could not sell any mangoes on Wednesday either.
According to traders, Gopalbhog mangoes are being sold at a price of Tk 1,400 to 1,500 per 40kg (1 maund).
Muhammad Nazrul Islam, deputy director, Department of Agriculture Extension in Chapainawabganj, said the economy of the district is dependent on mangoes. There are mango gardens on a total land area of 34,738 hectares in the district.
The production target has been set at 2.5 lakh metric tonnes this year—the same as last year.