Published: Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Insight

Ishwardi’s litchi legacy

 Various kinds litchis are on display at a litchi fair at Ishwardi in Pabna  Photo: STAR

Various kinds litchis are on display at a litchi fair at Ishwardi in Pabna Photo: STAR

Riaz Sardar of Diar Shahpur village in Ishwardi Upazila earned at least Tk. 50 lakh from his litchi orchard in the last two years. He started his orchard with only 16 litchi trees 15 years ago. There are over 500 farmers, mostly marginal, who have turned into merchant farmers in litchi business in the Ishwardi upazila of Pabna.
Lichi, one of Bangladesh’s most popular sweet and succulent summer fruits grows abundantly in many northern districts. Farmers of Ishwardi Upazila of Pabna beside river Padma have brought remarkable revolution in litchi within 20 years.
Farmers of Ishwardi Upazila claimed that they will earn Tk. 500 crore from Litchi orchards in the Ishwardi upazila this year, which will be the second highest Litchi production in the country.
“Last year, farmers of Ishwardi produced litchi worth Tk. 300 core. This year, farmers are expecting to produce litchi of Tk 500 crore.” said Kitab Ali Mondol, a merchant litchi producer and the founder secretary of Farmers Association of Ishwardi. “The production is increasing gradually”, he added.
He claimed that Ishwardi upazila has now reached the top position in litchi cultivation, although according to Agriculture Department, Dinajpur is the highest litchi producing district in the country.
According to the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE), Pabna, a total of 3,160 hector of land is brought under litchi cultivation in the district. “Of the total land, thousands of orchards in 1,500 hector land are filled with litchi trees expecting to produce at least 24 thousand metric tons of fruit”, said ABM Mostafizur Rahman, deputy director of DAE. This is the second highest litchi producing zone across the country, he claimed.
At least 20 to 30 villages of Silimpur and Shahapur union of Ishwardi upazila are renowned for litchi cultivation. Farmers in Pakshey, Shahapur, Solimpur, Joynagar, Maniknagar, Rooppur, Awtapara and few other villages of the upazila are now busy with their orchards to process litchis for selling. Bumper production and the handsome price inspire the farmers to increase litchi cultivation every year.
Ishwardi litchi producers organized traditional ‘Litchi fair’ at Mirkamari field of the Ishwardi upazila on May, 25. Litchi producers of Ishwardi upazila and the ‘Price Commission for Agricultural products’ jointly organized the fair to introduce the variety of the juicy summer fruit.
Information minister, Hasanul Haque Inu, inaugurated the ‘Litchi fair’. President of price commission, Md. Saidul Haque who is also the administrator of Pabna Zila Parishad, chaired the program while the local elites and the litchi producers spoke on the occasion.
Over 3 hundred litchi producers across the country joined the festival. There were 50 varieties of litchis displayed in the fair.
Siddikur Rahman Moyez, president of Farmers Association, claimed there are over five hundred litchi producers in Ishwardi who started their litchi orchards with a small budget 15 to 20 years ago, but now own large litchi orchards.
Farmers prefer litchi cultivation, as they sometimes face huge loss in paddy and other crops. Therefore, litchi cultivating areas are increasing every year Moyez added that the weather and soil are suitable here in Ishwardi upazila for litchi cultivation too.