The arrival of the luscious fruit is a silver lining every summer -- both for the connoisseurs as well as the cultivators of litchi in Bangladesh.
However, this litchi season could well turn out to be disappointing, at least for the fruit growers in Kushtia's Khoksha upazila because of something they had no control over -- high temperature and drought.
A number of litchi farmers in the upazila's Gopgram, Satpakhia, Boroi Chara, Basoa, Daskahunia, Manikat villages told UNB that they had high hopes of a bumper crop this summer, a projection based on the healthy flowering of the fruit three-four months ago.
But the cultivators said that unfavourable weather had shattered their hopes. They claimed it would be really difficult for them to recover even the production cost this year.
Touhidur Rahman, the owner of a litchi farm in Gopgram, said, “A couple of years back, I brought around 20 bighas of land under litchi cultivation. Currently, there are 500 trees in my orchard. But high temperature and inadequate rains have prompted the damage of fruits."
Last year, he pocketed Tk 3.5 lakh from the sales of litchi. "This year, I may not be able to even recover the production cost of Tk 20,000," the humble fruit grower said.
Harez Ali, another grower, said, “I have taken an orchard in Dashkahunia village on lease for Tk 1.80 lakh. At first, I spotted fruits on the 68 litchi trees in the farm. But the unfavourable weather led to cracks on fruits and their subsequent dropping from trees."
"I am staring at huge losses this year. The owner of the orchard is also reluctant to return the money," he added.
According to the District Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE), 103 hectares of land were brought under litchi cultivation in Kushtia this year.
Sabuj Kumar Shaha of Khoksha Upazila Agriculture Office, said, “Unfavourable weather may hit a handful of litchi growers in some villages this year, but the production of the fruit in other parts of the upazila is likely to exceed the target set by the authorities concerned.”