Trading and marketing of litchi has reached peak everywhere in the region involving hundreds of labourers both males and females in harvesting, segregating and transportation of the delicious seasonal fruit amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Market sources said harvest has been continuing in full swing with plenty of supply, but the pandemic for the second consecutive time has brought frustration among the public in general including litchi growers, traders and the consumers this season.
Foyzullah Chowdhury, a development activist in the city, said Rajshahi has a long tradition of brisk business of various summer fruits especially litchi and mango.
But, this year’s low production of the seasonal mouth-watering fruit has frustrated many of the growers and traders.
Even so, the juicy fruit litchi has appeared in the local markets including Rajshahi city and its adjacent areas.
Seasonal traders set up makeshift shops at different points in the city especially Shaheb Bazar, Bindurmore, Laxmipur Bazar, Sheroil Bus Terminal, Railway station and Court bazaar with the eye-catching fruit.
Trader Faridul Islam at New Market gate area said on Tuesday that many farmers are harvesting litchi with the hope of getting legitimate money.
He, however, said the market price of the mouth-watering fruit is comparatively high this season due to the less production. A comfortable situation everywhere in the society is very important to make any business profitable, Islam added.
Considering the low supply amid high demand, traders say prices may rise.
Alim Uddin, a farmer of Duary village under Paba upazila, said he brought his litchis to the local wholesale market for sale on Monday. “Price is good but the production was frustrating against expectations,” he added.
Dr Alim Uddin, principal scientific officer of Fruit Research Station, told BSS that litchi is grown well in Rajshahi and Dinajpur districts in the country’s northwest region but the fruit of Ishwardi is very delicious and famous across the country.
In Rajshahi, there are around 380 hectares of litchi orchards with the creation of new ones. He said commercial farming of some of the fruits especially mango and litchi is gradually being enhanced in the region.
Ishwardi is now being adjudged as capital of litchi as it possesses commercial litchi orchards on more than 3,000 hectares with around three lakh trees. Age of two lakh trees is above 15 years. Apart from this, there are scores of litchi trees on homesteads and adjacent areas throughout the upazila.
Number of trees is gradually increasing here as the farming is being proved as profitable, said Dr Alim Uddin.
He said around 230 crore litchis were produced here this season valued at around Taka 400 crore.
He said the yield of litchi has been affected to some extent due to the scorching heat and rainless condition of the season.
Presently, every 100 pieces of local variety litchi are selling at rates between Taka 200 and 250, Madrazi, Bombay and China-3 varieties at rates between Taka 250 and 300 and aristocrat Bedana varieties in between Taka 300 and 350 in the local markets.
Deputy Director of the Department of Agriculture Extension Abdul Awal said many people became self-reliant by cultivating litchi in recent years.
He said there are hundreds of litchi orchards on more than 1,000 hectares of land that produce huge yields which meet the local demand as well as being consigned to other parts of the country every year.