Dunga boats becoming pricey
With the onset of the rainy season, villagers in the district have started buying “dunga”, small boats made of palm trees, for transportation as well as for collecting shapla (water lilly), snails and catching fish.
Buyers and sellers including carpenters now throng the Chachuri, Maijpara and Tularampur haats – the makeshift markets -- where each dunga now sells between Tk 3,000 and 5,000.
Last two weeks were the peak time for villagers to buy dunga boats as heavy pre-monsoon rain had already filled up canals and water bodies and also submerged adjoining fields, making it difficult for them to walk around.
Villagers said, prices of dunga boats had gone up with the number of palm trees declining in the recent years.
Each tree slit in the middle can make two boats and provide an essential mode of transportation for the poor families.
Villagers pluck shapla for eating and selling while collect snails to feed their ducks with the help of it.
People living in neighbouring districts of Jessore, Faridpur, Khulna, Magura and Gopalganj also come to the Chachuri, Maijpara and Tularampur markets for buying or selling dunga.
While visiting Tularampur haat a few days ago, this correspondent saw hundreds of boats lined up for sale, with buyers making their choice and bargaining price. Carpenters were seen giving finishing touches to a good number of dunga boats.
Bodiar Sheikh, 65, a carpenter from Ramsiddhi village, said he had been making dunga for about 25 years.
“I can make a dunga in two days. But the trade is now facing problem due to shortage of palm trees and their rising cost”, he said.
Rahman Mia, 50, another dunga maker of Char Shalikha village, said he inherited the skill and earns a good amount every year.
"I have already sold three boats at good prices", said a beaming Rahman.
"Ashar is about to set in and I hope to sell more", he said.