Environment-friendly fruit bagging method, seen as an effective alternative to the use of chemical pesticides in mango orchards, interests the growers in the district famous for quality mango production.
A good number of mango farmers are using the method this season, following its successful implementation at Regional Horticulture Research Station in Chapainawabganj last year, said scientific officers of the station.
The alternative method appears as a blessing against the backdrop of random use of pesticides and fungicides that threaten ecological balance and public health, they said.
Bagging prevents pests, especially fruit flies, from reaching and damaging the mangoes and prevents latex burns and fungal spots on the fruits.
Cheaper and safer, the method also gives a more reliable estimate of the projected harvest, they said.
"By protecting the mangoes from diseases and pests, the method will boost the production of high quality exportable mangoes. It will also provide physical protection from scratches and scars, making the mangoes spotless," said Dr Sorof Uddin, senior scientific officer of the research station.
When the mangoes reach 40 to 55 days, each fruit is bagged and remains so till the harvest. No additional pesticide sprays are needed once the bags are put on the fruits.
While mango growers usually spray pesticides 20 to 30 times in their orchards, they will need only two to three times spraying of the items at the early stages of fruiting if bagging method is used.
All the leading mango-producing countries are using the environment-friendly process that also helps better yield, said Dr Shafiqul Islam, chief scientific officer of the research station.
Rabiul Islam, a resident of Sonar More in the town, said he procured 30 thousand specialised bags from China and sold it to the growers for Tk 4 or 5 each.
"Many other mango growers have expressed interest to get it but my stock has finished by now," he said.
Rafiqul Islam, an orchard owner of Palsha area of Sadar upazila, said he stopped spraying chemical pesticides after bagging the fruits for the first time this year.
Mangoes are the most important agricultural product in the area that has a long tradition of producing around 350 varieties of the fruit, said scientists and agriculture officials.
A large number of people are engaged in different jobs, from nursing to harvesting and packing, during the mango season every year.
There are 19 lakh mango trees on 24,260 hectares of land in the district and around 2.50 lakh tonnes of mangoes is expected to be produced this season, if weather remains favourable, said Saiful Islam, deputy director of the Department of Agriculture Extension, Chapainawabganj.
The area of mango cultivation and the number of trees in the district see a gradual increase.