Mangoes have been available at various markets across Chapainawabganj for some time now but sales have only just started to pick up in the face of nationwide restrictions on public movement aimed at curbing the recent resurgence of Covid-19.
The authorities of Chapainawabganj, one of the biggest mango producing districts in the country, placed the region under a seven-day lockdown beginning on May 25 before going on to add another seven days in a bid to keep the coronavirus at bay.
Previously, buyers from all over Bangladesh would travel to the district to purchase the famed fruit in large quantities.
This year though, customer turnout only started to increase in the past four-five days due to the current crisis, according to local traders.
During a visit to the district’s Puraton Bazar on Saturday, it was seen that around 100 traders were present. At the moment, only two varieties of mango — Gopalbhog and Khirsapat — are available in the market.
Khirshapat is available at prices ranging from Tk 1,400 to Tk 1,600 per maund (40 kg) while Gopal Bhog is being sold for about Tk 1,400 to Tk 1,800 per maund depending on the quality and size.
Mohammad Karim, who runs a shop at the mango market, said although the daily turnout of customers is small, their numbers are slowly increasing day by day.
Karim had purchased 10 maunds of Khirsapat mangoes in the morning and by 10:30am the same day, he had sold seven maunds.
Another mango trader, Babul Hossain, said he bought 25 maunds of Khirsapat and four maunds of Gopal Bhog, of which he has already sold 11 and two maunds respectively.
“During the first week of the lockdown, no one came to the market to buy mangoes,” he said.
As a result, traders have had to let their stock go for cheap, Hossain added.
Abdul Wahed, president of Bangladesh Mango Producers Merchant Association, said although mango prices have been set at Tk 2,000 to Tk 2,500 this year, orchard owners and traders are unable to get fair prices due to the low customer turnout.
Muhammad Nazrul Islam, deputy director of the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) office in Chapainawabganj, said the district’s economy depends on the mango trade.
A total of 34,738 hectares of land in the district was used for mango cultivation with a production target of 2.5 lakh tonnes for this year, he added.
Contacted, the agriculture department officials said no restriction was imposed on mango farmers or traders and so, they could send their produce to other districts.