Need-based processing plants imperative for Rajshahi region's mango
By Dr Md Aynal Haque
RAJSHAHI, June 1, 2023 (BSS) - Rajshahi along with its adjacent Naogaon and Chapainawabganj districts is famous for its tasty and delicious mangoes that attract people from all over the country every summer.
Production of the juicy fruits increases each year for its profit, but unfortunately, there is no mango-preservation scope or processing plant here as a whole.
Officials of the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) are expecting around 2.75 lakh tonnes of production from different mango orchards on 28,000 hectares of land in the three districts.
Mango is an important seasonal cash crop in northwestern Bangladesh. Every season, a large number of people are involved in various types of work in these areas.
Masudur Rahman, President of Rajshahi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said there are enormous scopes of adding value to the seasonal cash crop besides making the farmers happy.
Quoting the official latest data he said there were 25,000 trees that yielded 2.35 lakh tonnes of mangoes in the last harvesting season. The yield per hectare was 13.1 tonnes.
Some varieties like Gopalbhog, Langra, Himsagar, Rani Pasand, Fazli and Aswina are extremely tasty and mouth-watering among more than a hundred others.
Mangoes grow almost everywhere in the three districts however; Paba, Charghat and Bagha in Rajshahi, Sapahar and Porsha in Naogaon and Shibgonj, Kansat, Rohanpur and Sadar of Chapainawabganj have a long-lasting tradition of producing quality mangoes.
Regarding the ongoing mango production, Dr Shafiqul Islam, principal scientific officer of Regional Fruit Research Centre, said the current year has been a very good one for mango production.
As the growers reap large sums of money from mango farming, it encourages many others towards farming mangoes, in turn resulting in an escalation of acreage.
"Although we are yielding huge numbers of mangoes every year, no significant mango processing plant has been set up here as of yet," he said.
Various processed food-items particularly juice, soft drinks, pickles, jams and jellies can be manufactured through the processing of mangoes.
If possible, this sector can contribute a lot to the region's economy as the processed foods are in enormous demand, apart from their high market values.
Mango is a perishable item. So, it needs immediate consumption or processing for its value addition. Besides, various natural calamities like storms, hailstorms, gusty winds, tornadoes and droughts cause a significant portion of produced mangoes to fall out of trees.
However, the modern processing plant can make the fallen mangoes valued food items and protect them from getting damaged.
Dr Islam said the Barind ecosystem) is unfavourable for field crop production but suitable for production of fruits like mango, litchi and jujube etc.
Mango farmers obtained on average 231-kilogram per hectare and then production increased sharply and reached 2,190 kilogram per hectare.
About seventy-five percent farmers are transforming crop land into mango orchards because of water scarcity, high profitability, easy cultivation process, land suitability and favourable environment for mango cultivation.
However, increasing the life span of mango orchards increases yield loss of both rice and non-rice crops.
He opined that there is a possibility to decrease food grain, pulses, oil seed and vegetable production in the long run.
Therefore, planned mango cultivation is needed along with ensured credit facilities through both institutional and non-institutional sources for mango cultivation, preservation and marketing.