Following less than ample returns during this year's guava season, farmers in the Barishal, Jhalakathi and Pirojpur districts wanted to make up their losses through hog plum cultivation.
The farmers in Banaripara upazila of Barishal, Nesarabad upazila of Pirojpur and Jhalakathi sadar upazila are already harvesting hog plums, locally known as amra.
Since hog plum does not rot as easily as guava, growers are able to market the flowering plant without much haste.
Farmers are interested in hog plum cultivation as the product is profitable due to high local demand.
As a result, many locals in these areas are cutting down their guava orchards to make way for hog plum plantations.
During the nationwide shutdown between March 26 and May 30 aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19, markets across the country were shuttered and previously harvested stocks of guava ended up rotten.
But now, farmers have turned to hog plum to cover the losses incurred during this two-month period of shutdown.
Farmers in Barishal, Pirojpur and Jhalakathi collectively produced about 21,000 tonnes of hog plum last year, according to sources from the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) wing in Barishal division.
The fruit is usually grown in about 1,500 hectares of land in this region and farmers log Tk 5-6 crore in sales revenue.
This year though, thanks to more favourable conditions and the availability of more land for cultivation, hog plum production could increase by 5 per cent to reach around 22,000 tonnes.
"Production could increase as the weather is favourable," said Md Aftab Uddin Ahamed, additional director of the DAE wing in Barishal.
Sekhor Shikder, a farmer in the Kuriana union under Nesarabad upazila of Pirojpur, said that they did not make any profit from guava production this year as prices decreased by at least 50 per cent year-on-year.
"We are now looking to produce hog plums. We may have incurred losses through guava production but hog plum farming could help our profits return," he added.
Meanwhile, Mithun Halder, a hog plum farmer of Jalabari village in Pirojpur, believes that sales could increase.
"Last year, we sold at least Tk 2 lakh worth of hog plum but this year, we expect higher yields due to the favourable conditions. We think sales could cross the Tk 2.5 lakh mark now as production should increase by at least 10 per cent," he said.
Although the vitamin-rich fruit grows well in different districts of Barishal division, it is mostly grown in sadar upazila of Jhalakathi and Nesarabad upazila.
Flowers appear on the trees between mid-January and March while harvesting season is between mid-June to September.
Besides, several growers have had their banana, chili or other vegetable gardens damaged by incessant rains for the past few months.
While visiting a hog plum garden in Kuriana village of Pirojpur, it was found that the fruits are picked and packed by farmhands.
Sangeet, a supervisor of the garden, said the price of hog plum is lower this year compared to the year before.