CHT farmers count deep losses
Farmers count losses every year in Chittagong Hill Tracts, as they often are compelled to sell off their produces crops and fruits at prices lower than production costs due to preservation constraints and poor infrastructure in the region.
Many growers, who have been denied fair prices of their produces for long, say they now take least interest in producing seasonal crops and fruits, which leads to the rise in joblessness in the three hill districts.
“Sometimes we sell our produces in lower prices fearing that those might get rotten, and also because of lack of transportation facilities,” said Md Afzal, a fruit grower in Khagrachhari, pointing to the fact that a huge quantity of fruits perishes because there is no cold storage or fruit processing centre in the area.
Officials of the Department of Agricultural Extension admitted that some farmers, who are directly or indirectly involved with personal or government-owned forests or orchards became self-reliant, while many suffered losses, as their farm products perish because of preservation constraints.
The production of crops and fruits such as ginger, turmeric, sugarcane, pineapple, mango, and papaya was aplenty last year in 25 hilly upazilas in the CHT districts of Khagrachhari, Rangamati and Bandarban.
According to the DAE, around 48,187 tonnes of turmeric were produced from 6,251 hectares of land, 81,996 tonnes of ginger from 6,828 hectares, 2.25 lakh tonnes of jackfruit from 9,871 hectares, 2.7 lakh tonnes of banana from 11,000 hectares, 92,008 tonnes of mango from 6,739 hectares and 2.3 lakh tonnes of pineapple from 6,842 hectares of land.
A turmeric grower pointed out that a huge amount of his produces got rotten. “Setting up of cold storages and processing plants could save a considerable amount of their produces, which might be exported after meeting the local demand,” said Manik Mohon Tripura of Beltali Para area under Sadar upazila in Khagrachhari.
When asked, Anis-ul Haque Bhuyan, deputy commissioner of Khagrachhari, said he is aware of such preservation problems.
“To protect their produces, setting up cold storage or fruits processing plant are necessary here,” he said, pointing out that such industry would create employment opportunities.