The district sees rise in commercial cultivation of banana, but the growers are facing problem in trading the popular fruit due to lack of suitable places to be used as market.
Growers gather banana for sale at different points on both the sides of Rangpur-Bogra highway, including Dhaperhat, Palashbari, Balua, Golapbagh and Fasitoal in Gaibandha district, twice a week.
Often smooth movement of vehicles like buses and trucks is hampered as traffic jam is created due to crowding of growers, vendors, and purchasing agents, and piling up of huge banana on the roadside spaces stretching over one to three kilometres.
Banana farming has continued to increase in Gaibandha Sadar, Sundarganj, Sadullapur, Palashbari and Gobindaganj upazilas as its cultivation is more profitable than that of usual crops like paddy and jute, said sources at the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) in the district.
During this season 8,325 bighas of land have been brought under banana cultivation in the district and of it, 7,650 bighas of land belong to Palashbari and Gobindaganj upazilas, said DAE sources.
Several familiar varieties of banana including sagor, jahaji, malbhog, champa and shobri have great demand in different places, especially capital Dhaka and huge banana is transported to the city by trucks every market day.
It costs Tk 15,000 to Tk 20,000 to cultivate banana on a bigha of land and the growers get return of Tk 55,000 to Tk 60,000, which is not possible from cultivation of usual crops, said Zahedul Islam, a farmer of Marir Hat village in Palashbari upazila.
In absence of fixed marketplaces for banana, the growers pile up their produces on the roadside space, and it increases the risk of accidents, said Sultan Ali, another grower of Anduya village in Palashbari upazila.
Sometimes, especially when the demand of banana increases, agents and brokers collect banana from the field for cash payment, said Sharif Mia, a grower of Boglagari village in Gobindaganj upazila.
Although different kinds of bananas are produced round the year, September-October is the most suitable time for its plantation to achieve good yield of the fruit that needs nearly a year to harvest, said agriculture officials.
The growers themselves preserve banana plants for the next season and the DAE extends technical support for its better yield, said Mir Abdur Razzak, deputy director, DAE, Gaibandha.
He admitted the need of specific markets for banana that is being cultivated in larger scale on commercial basis.
Meanwhile, banana buyers have complained that some unscrupulous brokers and traders use harmful chemicals on immature green bananas to earn more by ripening it early and such bananas rot before marketing in distant places but there is none to look after the matter.