Unsold stock of country's favourite Srimangal pineapple continues to grow larger at wholesale warehouses in Moulvibazar's Srimangal upazila town.
Even though the delicious seasonal fruit of Srimangal is in high demand among end consumers all over the country and its growers saw a good yield this year, lack of buyers from different districts amid novel coronavirus scare has resulted in the fall in sales at the wholesale warehouses in Srimangal, said its wholesalers.
During a visit to New Market area of Srimangal town recently, this correspondent witnessed arrival of a good amount of pineapples all throughout the day at the wholesale stores. However, the market was almost devoid of wholesale buyers from other districts.
At the market, the largest of the pineapples was being sold for Tk 30 to 35 each, medium size for Tk 20 to 25 and small for Tk 10 to 12.
Pineapple farmer Fahid Mia from Mirzapur said, "I grew pineapple on five acres of land this year and I got a good yield too. But thanks to coronavirus, pineapple prices are much lower this time -- at least Tk 10 to 20 lower than that in the previous year."
Nasir Mia, another farmer from the same area, said, "Compared to other years, the prices have fallen this time. The wholesale buyers are not coming to pineapple gardens amid the fear of Covid-19. So I'm selling it at a lower price to any customer."
"Sales have been poor due to the coronavirus. But the business would've been better this year as the harvest has been pretty good," said Ayat Ali, a pineapple trader at the market.
Abdul Bashit Malek, a pineapple grower in Srimangal, said pineapple is widely cultivated in hilly areas of Moulvibazar as the growers can reap good profits from its sale.
The pineapples from the district are sold at markets across the country, including those in Dhaka. However, a large amount of the fruit gets spoiled without adequate cold storages and food processing facilities in the area, he added.
As such, many farmers, including himself, have no other alternative but to incur losses through selling their produce at low prices that do not cover for the cost of production this year, said pineapple grower Mohammad Shahed Ahmed, a resident of Jalalia Road in Srimangal town.
Pineapple farmers in Mokam Bazar, Satagaon, Muchai, Mirzapur, Bhunbi, Bhairab Bazar, Dalubari, Radhanagar and Mohajerabad areas are also facing the same situation, he also said.
Nirmal Aditya, proprietor of Nepal Aditya & Sons, a wholesaler in Srimangal town, said they are having a difficult time making profit from selling pineapple at current prices.
He also said their wholesale buyers, from different districts including Dhaka, Narsingdi and Bogura, usually check the quality of the fruits themselves before placing orders in bulk quantities. But this time around, they were unable to come to the town amid transport shutdown due to the coronavirus.
Kazi Lutful Bari, deputy director of Department of Agricultural Extension in Moulvibazar, said pineapple was cultivated on 1,201 hectares of land in the district while it was cultivated on 625 hectares of land in Srimangal upazila alone.
Like years before, the harvest of pineapple has been good this year. But unfortunately, farmers' profits are dampened now due to the coronavirus.
Both seasonal fruit growers and fruit traders would benefit greatly if sufficient cold storages as well as food processing factories were built in the area, he further said.