Chapainawabganj, May 18 (UNB)- Growers and businesses here are hopeful of harvesting and bringing their mangoes to the market within the next two weeks.
Matiur Rahman, a mango trader of Sadar upazila’s Baliadangi area, said they are going to harvest delicious ‘Gopalbhog’ and ‘Guti’ mangoes within 15 days.
Gradually, they will start harvesting Khirsapat, Lengra, Fajli, Amrapali, Ashwina and other varieties, he said.
Babul Islam, another mango businessman, said people should buy mangoes after examining whether those are really from Chapainawabganj or not. Some are selling low-quality mangoes produced in Satkhira, Dinajpur, Meherpur and other areas with Chapainawabganj tags.
Abdur Rakib, a mango grower of Chapainawabganj municipal area, said, “Hope, there'll be increased demand for Khirsapat this time as it has been registered as a Geographical Indication (GI) Bangladeshi product. And we'll get the fair price.
Abdul Wahed, President of Chapainawabganj Mango Merchant Organisation, said mango traders suffered a loss of Tk 500 crore last year due to hailstorm and low prices.
Manjurul Huda, Deputy Director of Chapainawabganj Agriculture Extension Department (DAE), said, “The production of mangoes is satisfactory this year. But, the department is advising growers to be careful about Hopper insect attack due to the increased heat.”
According to sources at the DAE, 31,820 hectares of land were brought under mango cultivation in five upazilas of the district in 2019 which was 21,000 hectares in 2007. Over 275000 metric tonnes of mangoes were produced in the district in 2018.
Dhaka, Bangladesh, May 17(UNB/IPS) – Kaptai Lake, the biggest manmade lake in Bangladesh, is heading for a tragic end as sediments fill up its bottom and waste materials continue to pollute it every day.
The 688-square-kilometre lake, created by damming the Karnafuli River in Rangamati for hydroelectricity in 1960, has been providing livelihood for a large portion of the local population through tourism, fishing, transportation and much else.
Pollution and the use of pesticides are playing big roles in the water body’s decline, environmentalists say.
The lake, connecting six sub-districts, is traversed by thousands of people every day. Waste and oil from the launches and boats go into it, apart from those dumped by people living on its edges, locals say.
It is unclear how much waste, including plastic and polythene, is dumped into the lake daily. Deputy Commissioner of Rangamati AKM Mamunur Rashid says he is not sure if there had been any cleanup drives.
‘Never been dredged’
But siltation has turned out to be the major concern. The lake has never been dredged in 59 years, says Commodore Mahbub-ul Islam, chairman of Bangladesh Inland Water Transportation Authority (BIWTA).
Although the lake’s average depth is nine metres, when the water level recedes, it becomes dotted with small shoals. Launches and steamers have to suspend operations until the water level rises.
It is not just affecting the people dependent on the lake but also hampering power production.
The 230-megawatt capacity hydroelectric power plant’s production has come down to 110MW, says ATM Abjjur Zaher, the project manager, noting that the situation will not improve until there’s adequate rainfall.
It is an alarming situation that calls for urgent and effective measures, local say. They are pushing for dredging but the idea is opposed by some environmental activists.
MA Matin, general secretary of Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon, a movement to protect the environment, argues that dredging is not a permanent solution.
The water is more or less stagnant when a dam is constructed, he notes. “If we remove silt now, the basin will again be filled up in another 10 years,” he says, recommending searching for alternatives.
Deputy Commissioner Rashid admits that there are pitfalls but insists that it will be impossible to overcome the situation without removing the silt.
He says the lake is gradually becoming unusable because of siltation. “We’ve written to higher authorities but without any result. Recently, a BIWTA team has conducted a survey of Kaptai area,” he says.
People, pushing for dredging, are not realising that it will take time, Rashid says.
“You can’t just dredge the lake. More research is needed before action, and issues like landslides should be considered,” he tells UNB.
Md Mahbubul Islam, Soil Resource Development Institute’s acting chief scientific officer in Bandarban, concurs.
“We can’t deny the possibility of landslides since dredging will change the basin’s structure,” he says.
Islam suggests a long-term study and exploring ways to protect the area and warns that otherwise, there will be a possibility of damage.
He says the lake covers a huge area and needs time for studies or to start dredging. The process will be a “little bit complex”, he notes.
Sunil Kanti Dey, a Rangamati-based journalist who has seen Kaptai Lake from its inception, says that it is now a pale shadow of its former self.
“Restoring the lake’s former glory will be very difficult, if not impossible,” he says. “It’ll be too late if we don’t act now.”
Brahmanbaria, May 16 (UNB)- Farmers have been counting about Tk 300 loss per maund of rice here in the current Boro season due to fall in rice prices.
Visiting Ashuganj rice market, the biggest rice wholesale market of the country’s eastern region, the UNB correspondent found farmers from Kishoreganj, Netrakona, Habiganj, Mymensingh, Sunamganj and Narsingdi bring rice here by river route. Rice mill owners buy rice directly from farmers at this spot.
Farmers said they have been counting huge losses as they are not getting a fair price this year. Mill owners are buying maximum rice at a low price produced in the haor areas instead of the government.
The production cost of per maund of rice including the labourer cost is near Tk 1,000 while its selling price is only Tk 550 to Tk 750 in the local markets, they said.
Ramzan, a farmer hailing from Sarail upazila, said he paid Tk 600 to a day labourer for harvesting paddy with an extra amount of Tk 200 for food.
In addition, he has been waiting for three days at Ashuganj rice wholesale market with 1,400 maunds rice and being forced to sell those at low price. “I have to count a loss of Tk 4 lakh if I sale rice of one boat,” he said.
Another farmer, hailing from Nikli village in Kishoreganj, said he will have to count a loss of Tk 80,000 this year.
According to local sources, frustration gripped farmers as each and every farmer counting losses who bring 50,000 maunds of rice rice daily on an average to Ashuganj rice wholesale market.
Nazrul Islam, a farmer said, the government has fixed price of per maund rice at Tk 1,040 , but they are being forced to sell rice at only Tk 520 to Tk 750 per maund.
District Controller of Food Subir Nath Chowdhury said, farmers should sell rice in their own upazila food godown to get fair price.
Shahajahan Siraj, District Rice Mill Owners Association General Secretary, said to protect farmers in this situation the government should stop rice import and buy more rice from farmers.
He also demanded a rice procurement center of the government in Ashuganj rice market to buy rice directly from the farmers.
Ashuganj Food Control office sources said it would collect 33,923 metric tonnes of Boro rice in the current season. Of that, 24,437 mts would be boiled and 9,486 mts non-boiled.
Ashuganj Food Godown will collect 22,090 metric tonnes rice from 246 mills. Collection will continue till August 31.
Decline in Boro rice prices were also reported from other parts of the country.
A Tangail farmer set his Boro paddy field on fire protesting the paddy price fall and the serious scarcity of day labourers in the district on Tuesday.
Farmer Abdul Malek Shikder staged this unusual protest at Bankina village in Kalahati upazila of Tangail.
Farmers in different parts of the country staged protests in different ways demanding fair prices of their produces. Students of different universities, including Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University and Rajshahi University, also joined the protest prgrammes.
Dhaka, May 16 (UNB) – The arrangements taken by the government for performing hajj this year by Bangladeshi Muslims are now much better than in the past, said State Minister for Religious Affairs Sheikh Md Abdullah.
“We’ve taken strict measures to make sure there’s no lacking in this year’s hajj management,” Sheikh Abdullah said in an interview with UNB recently.
Abdullah said no pilgrim can illegally stay in Saudi Arabia once the hajj is over.
He said the Bangladeshi Muslims intending to perform hajj now can complete the immigration procedure from Dhaka airport before heading towards Saudi Arabia. “It’ll come into effect this year.”
Abdullah further told UNB that the authorities have taken actions, including fine and cancellation of licences, against the hajj agencies that indulged in irregularities.
He mentioned that the Bangladesh government has informed the Saudi government about the housing hazards of Bangladeshi pilgrims. “The Saudi government has confirmed that the Bangladeshi nationals will be given better facilities.”
Abdullah said the two proposed hajj packages under the government arrangements are Tk 418,500 and 344,000 respectively, while the lowest package under the private arrangement is Tk 344,000.
This year, he said, a total of 127,198 people will be able to perform hajj from Bangladesh. Among them, some 1,12,000 will go under private management and 7,198 under government management.
The State Minister said the plane fare this year has been fixed at Tk 128,000 against last year’s Tk 138,191.
Those performing hajj in 2019 must have their Machine Readable Passports (MRPs) valid until February 10, 2020.
He lauded Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s efforts to improve the hajj arrangement process saying, “Every time she (PM) ascended to power she made arrangements to provide maximum services to pilgrims. Still, she’s taking various steps to increase facilities for pilgrims.”
Besides, the junior minister said, the government is working to digitalise the management of Islamic Foundation. “The Islamic Foundation management will become more transparent.”
He mentioned the government’s new project to establish 560 model mosques across the country. “We’ve already called for tender proposals.”
About extending support to imams and muazzins through a welfare fund, the State Minister said, “We’re considering giving them allowances from the Imam Welfare Fund.”
Faridpur, May 16 (UNB) – Despite initial optimism over a bumper yield, lychee farmers in Faridpur are increasingly worried about the damage inflicted on this season’s crop by the prolonged heat wave over the last few days, that now looks likely to saddle them with losses.
According to sources at the district’s Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) office, this year’s crop of lychees - the small, juicy fruit is close to 82 percent water - were damaged due to prolonged heat wave that bred a drought-like situation for the last several days.
They also said Cyclone Fani -- that passed over the country on May 4 – damaged many lychee orchards.
During a recent visit to the lychee orchards in Madhukhali, Boalmari and Sadar upazilas of the district, our correspondent found that the inedible outer layer of the lychees had cracked, the usually red exterior with black spots, while many had dropped from the tree.
Farmers of the district worried whether they would get a good, or at least fair price or not, even as the women and children in their families were seen passing busy time in their orchards collecting lychees and preparing those for selling in the local market.
Traders who bought the whole orchard from the owners are in doubt whether they will be able to return their capital in this season.
Rashedul Islam Babu, a lychee grower of Jahapur in Madhukhali upazila, said they failed to maintain the quality of lychee with their distinctly sweet, juicy taste, after using more pesticide, fertilizer and medicine than expected.
Farid Ahmed, a farmer of Kadirdi in Boalmari upazila, said “I have brought a vast tract of land under lychee cultivation as it is more profitable than other crops. Though I have got profit by cultivating lychee in the past, this year I’m worried of getting the capital money.”
Shahidul Islam Majnu, chairman of Ishan Gopalpur union in Sadar upazila, said at first it seemed that the production of lychee will be better this year but at the end of this season the production of the juicy fruit is decreasing due to rise in temperature and poor rainfall.
Kantik Chandra Chakrawarty, deputy director of Faridpur, DAE, said this year a total of 300 hectares of land have been brought under lychee cultivation with a target of producing eight metric tons of lychee from each hectare., i.e. 2400MT of lychees.
For getting good yield of lychee, the farmers have to use medicine and water the orchard twice a day before harvesting, he said.
Chakrawarty also asked the growers to nurture his/her orchard carefully.
Besides, the lychees of the district are available in Dhaka, Barishal, Munshiganj, Manikganj and other districts.
Shahidul Islam, a lychee trader in Dohar upazila in Dhaka, acknowledged the lychees of Faridpur district are indeed special. “It is being harvested one month before the harvesting period and there is a demand for Faridpuri lychee from the buyers due to its sweet, full taste.”
This year though, they may have to go without it.