Lychee growers in Pabna are all smiles as the fruit is fetching a good market price across the country after a shaky harvest.
After the government lifted the nationwide closure, lychee growers supplied the popular summer fruit across the country in last couple of weeks and have earned well despite the initial setbacks during harvest in May due to Cyclone Amphan and the shutdown to curb coronavirus outbreak.
"Lychee has a short shelf life. We started harvesting local variety lychees from the middle of May but could not recover the production cost. At the same time, Cyclone Amphan damaged 30 to 40 percent output from most of the trees in the region," said Kitab Ali Mondol, a key lychee producer from Pabna's Ishwardi upazila.
"Following the huge loss from Amphan, we started harvesting 'Bombay Lychee', 'China Lychee' and local variety from early June and began supplying the fruits across the country after the government restrictions were lifted, and received good price in the market, which helped recover the initial loss," Kitab said.
About 5,000 hectares of land were brought under lychee cultivation this year in Pabna, including 3,100 hectares in Ishwardi upazila alone. A total of 150 to 180 crore lychee have been produced this year, said Md Azhar Ali, deputy director of Department of Agricultural Extension in Pabna.
"Due to Cyclone Amphan, growers lost lychee worth Tk 150 to 200 crore. Yet they earned Tk 450 to 500 crore as the fruit fetched good price in the market," the DAE deputy director said.
The harvesting of lychee officially ended on June 15, with some harvesting still going on in some areas. Around 40 to 50 trucks loaded with different varieties of lychee transported the fruit across the country from Pabna in the last couple of weeks during the peak of harvesting time after the curbs on movement were relaxed, according to the lychee growers.
Each hundred pieces of lychee are being sold at Tk 180 to Tk 250 from the orchards in Ishwardi, the biggest lychee producing area in the district -- bringing smiles to the faces of growers, as most of them managed to recover the production cost and even make some profits in these trying times.
"I was worried about recovering production cost after Amphan damaged about 40 percent of my lychee on the trees. Now I am happy to recover the production cost as the fruit fetched good price," said Sheikh Mahedi Hasan, a lychee grower of Shahpur village in Ishwardi upazila.
Mehedi cultivated lychee on five bigha land expecting to earn Tk 6 lakh with a profit, but now he is happy getting a cash return of Tk 4-5 lakh.
"I could not make a huge profit but I am happy that the good lychee price recovered my production cost and also generated some profit," he added.