When the famous Madhupur pineapple started losing its reputation amid use of excessive hormones for increasing the size and early ripening of the popular fruit, several growers returned to its production in natural ways, bringing back its original taste and flavour.
One of them, Nazrul Islam of Moterbazar area under Mohishmara union
cultivated 'Honey Queen' (locally called Jaldugi) pineapples on three acres and 'Giant Q' (locally called Calendar) varieties on one acre of his lands this season.
Awal Mahmud, director of Nirapod Khadya Andolon, a private organisation in the district town, bought around 60,000 Joldugi and 10,000 Calendar variety of pineapple from Nazrul with advance payment.
They are taking away the pineapples from the orchard every week on trucks and selling these to wholesalers at different places including Dhaka and Tangail.
Mirza Shajahan, quality controller of the organisation, said the hormone-free pineapples, which are juicy and tasty, have got so much popularity that the stock is sold out within a short time.
Demand of pineapple is also high this year as people want to take the nutrotious fruit during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, he said.
A pair of Joldugi is selling at Tk 50 to Tk 60 while Calender, a larger variety, at Tk 70 to Tk 80, he added.
Asma Khan, a housewife of Victoria Road in the town, said she bought 10 Joldugi pineapples from them at Tk 250.
It is really tasty and have good flavour, she added.
Pineapple grower Nazrul, who does a government job in Tangail, said he started cultivating pineapple five years ago but he produced the fruits without using any hormones for the first time this year, being inspired by Sanwar Hossain, another pineapple grower in adjacent Garobazar area.
"I have spent around Tk 3 lakh for the cultivation and hope to sell the produces for Tk 10 lakh. I shall cultivate the fruit on a larger area the next season," he said.
Contacted, Sanwar Hossain said he has been producing pineapples without using hormones since 2015 and following him several others in the upazila also started doing so.
"Local growers use hormones to make pineapples larger and ripen it faster for getting early market and sell the popular fruit for higher prices. The representatives of the hormone producing companies and a section of agriculture officers also encourage them to use the hormones in the fruits," he said.
Now with the resumption of hormone-free pineapple cultivation by some growers, reputation of the famous Madhupur pineapple along with its real taste and flavour is returning, he said.
Like many others, Shamsul Haque, a large-scale pineapple grower of Aushnara area uses hormones in his fruits.
Asked why he uses the hormones, Shamsul said the pineapple produced without using hormone is small in size and looks dark green but the buyers like large yellow colour fruits.
"The wholesalers prefer the fruits ripened with hormone as it lasts about double time than the fruits that ripen naturally. Moreover, I can take specific amount of the fruit to the market by ripening it with hormones. Otherwise, the fruits ripens on the orchard at a time and I incur loss for not getting sufficient buyers," he added.
Madmudul Hasan, upazila agriculture officer in Madhupur, said around two lakh tonnes of pineapple is produced on around 6,500 hectares of land in Madhupur upazila every year.
It is also cultivated on over 3,000 hectares of land at adjacent Ghatail upazila in Tangail and Fulbaria upazila in Mymensingh.
"The hormones that the local pineapple growers use are not so harmful. However, use of the hormones has been reduced a lot," he said.
"The Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation is looking for a land in Madhupur for setting up a food processing factory based on pineapple and other fruits produce here," he added.