New mango varieties gaining ground
New mango varieties are getting priority on consumers' list of preferences for being tastier and more attractive than the existing ones.
Farmers are also gaining interest in cultivating these varieties, especially the hybrid and those derived through grafting, to avail higher prices for the increase in demand.
According to scientists, the hybrid and grafted varieties are high yielding, colourful and sweeter than the existing varieties. Hybrid mango Bari Aam-3 and Bari Aam-4 are the most popular among them.
Bari Aam-3 is a popular mango hybrid in India developed by crossing Dasheri and Neelum.
It was introduced in Bangladesh in the 19th century. After research, the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (Bari) released it in 1996, said Md Sorof Uddin, a senior scientific officer at the Bari in Gazipur.
This variety has been made available in the markets widely since 2009-10. Now, Bari-3 is being cultivated in at least 30 districts, including the Rajshahi region, the major mango-producing belt.
Bari Aam-3, which starts arriving in the market on June 15 and continues to be available up to mid-August, is getting more popular among the consumers for its flavour, size, colour and taste.
According to the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), 25 lakh tonnes of mango have been produced on two lakh hectares of land this season.
Last season, 24.68 lakh tonnes of mangoes were produced on 1.9 lakh hectares of land.
Bari Aam-4, another hybrid of a variety of M3896, a colourful and tasty variety from Florida of the US, and local variety Ashwina, was released in 2003, Sorof Uddin said.
Also developed by the Bari, the high-yielding hybrid is now being cultivated on 4,000 to 5,000 hectares of land. Though it contributes only 1 per cent to the national mango output, its demand is high as it is a late variety.
Besides, last year, two more mango hybrids -- Bari Aam-13 and Bari Aam-17 -- developed by the Bari -- have not started providing yields yet.
With these, a total of 17 mango varieties have been developed by the research organisation.
Bangladesh Agricultural University has developed 25 varieties of mango.
Many of the new varieties are in the primary stage of cultivation.
Meanwhile, Banana Mango, a grafted variety imported from Thailand, is being produced by a handful of farmers.
The demand for this variety is high, but only around 5 tonnes were produced. Besides, some other imported colourful varieties, including Miyazaki from Japan and Red Palmer from the US, are also being cultivated by a few farmers.
Sorof Uddin said there was a growing demand for hybrid mangoes as they were better in terms of quality and quantity and more attractive.
"So, the cultivation of these mangoes is spreading quickly," he said.
Currently, Bari Aam-4 is being sold at Tk 8,000 per maund (one maund equals around 37 kilograms), but other varieties have been sold for Tk 1,000 to Tk 1,400 per maund during the peak season.
Both Ashwina and Bari Aam-4 are still in the market. Ashwina is now being sold at Tk 1,600 per maund.
Usually, Bari Aam-4 hits the markets from the last week of July and remains available till August. Bari Aam-13 will take more than three to four years before they become available in the market.
It usually takes a long time to introduce new varieties as research takes five to six years to be completed.
For example, Bari Aam-4 took 17 years to 18 years to reach this stage and grow in popularity throughout the country, Sorof Uddin said.
"Most of the hybrid mangoes are late-season varieties, so they have higher market value. Since there is no shortage of mangoes in the peak season, the research is mainly done for late and off-season mango production."
Shahidul Islam, a mango grower in Chapainawabganj sadar, said farmers were now replacing the old varieties of mangoes such as Fazli and Ashwina with Bari Aam-3, Bari Aam-4 and some other varieties as the latter were more productive and had higher demand.
Kabir Hossain, a former director of the horticulture wing of the DAE, said Bari Aam-4 and some other varieties were now being planted in the orchards of Fazli and Ashwina in the Rajshahi region as their demand was very high.
DAE Director General Md Asadullah said there were some high yielding hybrid varieties of mango, including Bari Aam-4, which had a lot of potentials.
"We are working on various projects to expand the cultivation of these fruits so that the farmers can benefit."