The saying "every crisis brings opportunities" turned out to be true for Monisha Begum, a resident of Arazi Deshibai village in Jaldhaka upazila.
When people all over the world have been losing their jobs and livelihoods due to lockdowns enforced to curb the novel coronavirus pandemic, Monisha saw sales of lemon, grown in her orchard, soar during the same period.
The demand for lemon and other vitamin-C enriched produce rose considerably during the covid-19 situation, as vitamin-C is essential in enhancing immunity to fight viruses.
After getting married to transport worker Shahabuddin Hossain Sabuj five years ago, the couple realised that they needed a way to earn extra income in order to survive.
After some persuasion, her father-in-law helped her lease two bighas of land where she started planting lemon saplings of Thai variety.
About two years later, when their son was born, the plants started to yield fruits, as Monisha did not stop tending the plants despite her responsibilities and chores grew in the household.
"The Thai variety lemon got popular as it's really juicy and aromatic. With profits made in the last three years, I leased more land and expanded the orchard, which is now on five bighas of land," said Monisha.
The orchard now has 1,500 plants and each plant produces nearly 70 to 80 lemons annually. But since the pandemic struck last year, the demand for lemons skyrocketed and wholesalers from near and far have been lining up at her orchard for lemons, she added.
Lemon trader Abdul Malek, from the same upazila, said, "Supply of lemons from Monisha's orchard had always been steady, even during the off season. I've been making good profits during the pandemic as I've been buying it for Tk 3 to 4 a piece and selling each for Tk 10 at the retail market."
Monisha said lemon sales last year reached Tk 3.5 lakh against a production cost of Tk 70 thousand. With the profit, she and her husband have leased one more bigha of land for the orchard and purchased a used power tiller that they started renting to farmers in the area.
Three female workers, on daily wage, now help her at the orchard, she also said.
Majedul Islam, from Khutamara village, said, "Seeing Monisha's success, many unemployed youths like me stopped running after jobs and started making orchards to grow Thai lemon."