Naogaon farmers turning croplands into mango orchards

Khondaker Abdur Rouf, Naogaon
Published : 02:00, Jun 15, 2019 | Updated : 08:53, Jun 15, 2019

The picture shows a tree full of mangoes at an orchard in Porsha of NaogaonOnce known as the "Bread Basket" of Bangladesh, Naogaon was a renowned district in rice production in past. But with declining rice prices and increased harvesting cost, farmers are transforming their croplands into mango orchards for water scarcity, high profitability, easy cultivation process, land suitability and favorable environment for mango cultivation.
Around 2000 hectares of croplands turn into mango orchards in this region each year, making the region popular for its distinctively sweet mangoes. Earlier the market was concentrated on other areas of Rajshahi like Chapainawabganj and Natore.
Farmers in the "Barendra" region of Naogaon including Porsha, Sapahar, Patnitala and Dhamoirhat upazilas are expecting the market to exceed Tk 3 billion this year.
According to District Agricultural Extension Department, Nakfazlee, Langda, Fazlee, Gopalbogh, Khirshapati, Ashwina, Harivanga, Amrapali, Bari-3, 4 and 11 etc are the most common varieties of mango in the Naogaon district. Almost five lakh metric tons of mangoes are estimated to be harvested in more than 20,000 hectares of lands. It was only 6,000 hectares of land seven years ago.
A mango farmer of the Badalgachi upazila, Altaf Hossain said, "I am cultivating "Nakfazlee" mangoes for 12 years. It is popular among farmers here in offering high profit. We get almost Tk 2,800 for each 40 kilograms in the market."
Sub-assistant of Badlagachi Horticulture Center, Abdul Karim said, "Farmers are becoming interested in Nakfazlee mangoes here because of its taste, less fiber and less chances of rotting, with high profit in return."
An official of the Patnitola Agricultural Extension Department, Prakash Chandra Sarker said, "With our help, farmers are cultivating Nakfazlee mangoes in almost 600 hectares of land. Formerly these lands were only used to harvest Aman paddy, which beame a problem because of water scarcity, high harvesting costs etc. So the farmers are harvesting mangoes instead of paddy now."
President of Sapahar Mango Producer Merchants Association, Kartik Saha said, "Local farmers and merchants from Neyamotpur, Porsha, Sapahar, Patnitola sell mangoes at the Sapahar bazar. A chain of merchants from other districts control the mango market so farmers get less profit. The outsider merchants also sell Naogoan's mango by naming it Rajshahi's to the customers, thus Naogaon's overall mango market gets affected."
Deputy Director of Naogaon Agricultural Extension Department, Ranjit Kumar Mallik said, "Farmers in Naogaon brought on a revolution in harvesting mangoes. Thousands of unemployed youths are working in this huge market. But absence of a wholesale market and cold storages, tons of mangoes are being wasted."
In accordance with Naogaon's increasing number of mango orchards, farmers from Rajshahi, Chapainawabganj and Natore are also switching from paddy to mango. Almost 29,000 hectares land of Chapainawabganj, 18,000 hectares land of Rajshahi, and 5,000 hectares land of Natore are filled with mango orchards now.