Mango farming methods in Chapainawabganj are changing with time. Orchards with shorter trees, planted closer to each other, are on the rise in the district where traditional mango orchards have taller and fewer trees.
The shorter hybrid mango trees grow as tall as six to seven feet, whereas the traditional mango tree varieties are 30 to 40 feet tall.
With mango farming increasing every year in Chapainawabganj, more and more farmers these days are planting mango trees of hybrid varieties like Amropali and BARI-4 as the trees do not grow too tall and do not need much space.
The farmers prefer the hybrid varieties over the traditional varieties — such as Fazli, Langra and Khirsapat — as the former are more profitable and the trees produce fruits sooner.
In recent years, no one made new mango orchards with the popular traditional mango varieties — Fazli, Langra and Khirsapat — and a few of the traditional mango varieties have already gone extinct.
Mohammad Nazrul Islam, deputy director of Department of Agricultural Extension in Chapainawabganj, said there have been new mango orchards on 11,458 hectares of land in the district in the last 10 years and almost all of those are of the hybrid varieties.
Mango orchards have expanded on 34,738 hectares of land in 2021, from 23,070 hectares in 2011. About 1.85 lakh tonnes of mango were produced in 2011 and 2.5 lakh tonnes of it were produced last year. The targeted mango production this year has been set at the same amount produced last year.
The number of orchards is especially rising in Nachole, Gomostapur and other upazilas in the Barind region where the varieties of choice are mainly Gourmoti, Jadubhog, Amropali and BARI-11.
The farmers make more profit out of these varieties as the traditional varieties are not available when these varieties are harvested, Nazrul added.
Aminul Islam made a mango orchard on 72 bighas of land in Dheenagar village of Sadar upazila four years ago. He planted 13,000 saplings of only Amropali and BARI-4 varieties there. The space between each tree in the orchard is from 6 feet to 9 feet.
He leased the land for 15 years in exchange for Tk 4.2 lakh annual payment. Last year he sold Tk 9 lakh worth of mango from the orchard.
Most mango farmers these days prefer the high-density farming method for its commercial viability. They choose the hybrid mango varieties because the trees are shorter and smaller, but they have a higher yield compared to the larger traditional trees.
Moreover, the shorter trees are easier to maintain and easier to pluck the mangoes from, Aminul added.
Physician Masumuzzaman Chowdhury, from Maharajpur village of Sadar upazila, spent Tk 3 lakh to plant 500 saplings of several hybrid mango varieties, including Amropali and BARI-4, on five bighas of land in Jhilim village.
He said he could only plant 30 to 35 saplings of traditional varieties on the same land and it would take at least 6 to 7 years to get the harvest. The hybrid varieties, on the other hand, can be planted closer to each other and the fruit is produced within two years.
The farming of hybrid mango in high-density method is more profitable than other crops. This is the main reason he chose the method and many others in the district are also showing interest in it.
Kamrul Islam, principal scientific officer of Regional Horticulture Research Centre in Chapainawabganj, said when the traditional larger trees take eight to nine years to produce fruit, the smaller trees produce fruit within three years.
These varieties are gaining popularity as more trees can be planted on the same piece of land and their harvest time is shorter, he added.
Requesting anonymity, several mango experts made conjectures that if people discontinue farming the traditional varieties, some of those may go extinct in future.