Papaya farmers in Pirojpur incurred huge losses after the recent flood damaged a large number of fruit-bearing papaya trees.
According to the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) in Pirojpur, papaya was planted on 245 hectares of land in the district where matured papaya trees, along with fruits, on 25 hectares sustained damage in the recent flood this year.
Besides, the flood also damaged TK 11.44 crore worth of vegetables on 691 hectares of land in Pirojpur.
Farmer Zakir Hossain from Baro Jujkhola village in Pirojpur Sadar upazila said all the 600 papaya plants he planted in his orchard last year bore fruit this year, but now half of the trees are ruined by the flood.
The damage will cost him at least Tk 2 lakh, he also said.
A mature papaya tree produces fruits for over four years, with a harvest of around two maunds each year.
A maund of papaya usually sells for around TK 800 at wholesale markets, but during the floods, they were compelled to sell the fruit for Tk 450 a maund at the most, said papaya farmers.
While green papaya is a popular vegetable that grows all year round and sells for around TK 35 to Tk 40 each kilogram, ripe papaya is also high in demand.
Alamgir Hossain, from Sikdermollik village in Sadar upazila, said he planted 100 papaya plants in his orchard as profit from its sale is quite satisfactory.
The yield was also good, but before the mature fruits could be harvested, the trees and the fruits were damaged by floodwaters that remained in the orchard for nearly a week, he added.
Most farmers cultivated papaya on high land as they are well aware that it grows well on high land.
But the land considered high in the area was also inundated this year by the worst flood in 15 years, said Rafikul Islam, another farmer from the same village. "We had no idea that the water level might rise so high."
Agriculture Officer Shipon Chandra Ghosh, stationed at Pirojpur Sadar upazila, said papaya plants cannot withstand water stagnation. "The roots of the plants rotted as the plants remained submerged in water for a long time."