Without any rainfall in the past couple of weeks, lychees are dropping prematurely, shrinking in size and exhibiting black spots on them Dhaka Tribune

Lychee production may fall short at least one-third of this year’s target

Ishwardi upazila of Pabna is known as one of the leading lychee cultivation zones in the country. But this year farmers are experiencing a decline in production due to an acute shortage of rainfall in the region inducing severe drought in the orchards.

Meanwhile, farmers who are achieving good yields despite the adverse weather are still failing to market their products because of absentee wholesale traders from Dhaka and other regions during the on-going movement restrictions due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

According to the Upazila Agriculture Office, there are 283,500 lychee trees in 3,150 hectares of land in Ishwardi municipality and seven unions under the upazila, reports a correspondent from Pabna.

The agriculture department had set the production target for lychee at 20,000 tons this season. However, due to severe drought lychee production may fall short at least one-third of the target.

Prices of lychees may go up significantly in Dhaka and other areas due to low production and the restriction on movement. Last year, the production was satisfactory but excessive rain and the lockdown hampered transportation of the popular fruit, and hence, many traders in Dhaka faced loss.

Aynal Hossain, a lychee farmer from Baktarpur village of the upazila, said that there was a light shower in the area about 15 days ago. “Rain prevents lychees from dropping off the trees prematurely. But, as there hasn’t been any rain since then, farmers here are beginning to worry again.”

Akat Ullah, a farmer of Pakshi union, said: “Without any rainfall in the past couple of weeks, lychees are dropping prematurely, shrinking in size and exhibiting black spots on them.”

Kadam Ali Biswas of Sahapur union said: “Although my 400 lychee trees bore good yield this season, I couldn’t sell a single tree due to lack of buyers.”

Wholesalers from other districts are not visiting the orchards in Ishwardi this time due to the current transportation crisis.

Mizan Uddin, a lychee wholesaler based in Dhaka, said that lychees could not be stored for more than a day after being picked from the garden. “We are refraining from buying orchards this time, as the demand is low due to the pandemic.”

Upazila Additional Agriculture Officer Mita Sarkar said: “Ishwardi is one of the top lychee producing regions in the country. However, lychee farmers here won’t be reaching this year’s production target because of the heat-induced losses occurring due to excessive drought this summer.”

The loss of lychee may also be occurring due to excessive application of fertilizers and pesticides, the official said, urging farmers to refrain from using plant tonics without consulting an expert.

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