Only the heavenly taste of mango makes summer bearable in Bangladesh. Mango, known as the king of fruits, has a lot of health benefits. The antioxidant compounds in the fruit are said to protect against colon, breast and prostate cancers. It also helps lower cholesterol, add glow to the skin and improve eyesight.
This juicy fruit has just started appearing in different markets of Rajshahi. It will be abundantly available in local markets by the middle of June.
However, prices of different mango varieties are still too high for common people.
Consumers have to wait for a few days to get the Gopalbhog and Khirshapati varieties in full scale.
At the wholesale markets of Rajshahi and Baneswarhat, the early variety of Gopalbhog mango is being sold for Tk. 1,800–2,000 per maund.
Some indigenous varieties are also being sold in the markets.
Ziaur Rahman Liton, a mango orchard owner in Rajshahi, said the Khirshapat variety will be abundantly available in the market within a few days.
"And afterwards, the Langra variety fruits will also appear," he added.
The district administration has fixed the harvesting dates of different mango varieties. The harvesting of Gopalbhog mango started from May 20; Ranipasand and Laxmanbhog from May 25; Khirsapat or Himsagar from May 28; Langra from June 6; Amrapali, Fazli and Surma Fazli from June 16; and Ashwina from July 1.
Owing to the heat waves blowing across the country, the dates of harvesting three varieties of Guti, Gopalbhog, and Laksmanbhog have been fixed at least five days ahead of last years schedule.
Dr Alim Uddin, principal scientific officer of the Rajshahi Fruit Research Center, said if the present spell of heat wave continues, the mango will ripe quickly.
"However, the ripening process will be delayed in case of showers," he added.
He urged the farmers to follow the weather condition as well as the district administrations schedule.
However, if the mangoes of any orchid are ripe before the scheduled time, the farmer must inform the matter to the local upazilla nirbahi officer (UNO), who will visit the garden to inspect the fruits before giving any permission in this regard.
“The scheduled harvest time ensures that no chemical is used for harvesting mango in Rajshahi. This step really improved the reputation of mango of this district. We hope the fruits will be of the same quality this year as well,"said Rajshahi deputy commissioner SM Adbul Kader.
Meanwhile, a monitoring committee, comprising UNOs, upazila chairmen and agriculture officers of all upazilas of Rajshahi, has been formed to ensure the security of mango farmers, traders, customers and consumers. Also, a temporary office has been opened near the Banessher mango haat. Executive magistrates of the district administration will be there. Police will look after the transport of mango.
Torikul Islam, a mango orchard owner of Charghat upazila in Rajshahi, said pre-monsoon rain has helped mango trees blossom to the full this year.
The much-expected selling-buying binge will be getting momentum throughout the district, he added.
Dr Alim Uddin said mango is known as a crop of hostile weather because this fruit has to face many adverse conditions like norwesters and hailstorms.
"But mango farmers need not fear. Huge quantities of mango are still on trees,” he added.
Mango farmers, however, said several non-seasonal hailstorms damaged their orchards and mango blooms this year.
More norwesters or hailstorms in the region could damage the fruits totally, they added.
The High Court (HC) ordered the government to deploy police personnel at all mango orchards of the district to prevent the use of toxic chemicals in mango.
The government has also been asked to form a team comprising representatives from the district administration, police, RAB and BSTI to monitor stores and markets to ensure that no harmful substance is being used in the fruits.
Mango orchards in Rajshahi have been brought under police surveillance as per the HC directive, said Rajshahi police super Md Shahidullah.
“A meeting was staged between garden owners and businessmen to ensure that no toxic chemicals are being used in mango. “Rajshahis mangoes are exported abroad. These fruits are also sent across the country,” he added.
Hasan Waliullah, scientific officer of the Rajshahi Fruit Research Center, said the soil and climate of many areas under the division is suitable for mango farming. "Thats why this region is a popular mango hub," he added.
A large amount of profit and easy cultivation process also encourage farmers to cultivate the fruit commercially on their land. Commercial mango cultivation is playing a vital role in changing the socio-economic condition of the people of the region, the police super said.
Sources in the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) said if the weather condition remains suitable, the region will certainly witness a good yield of the tasty fruit this season. It suggested the growers to contact agriculture officials for necessary help.
It is learnt that a number of varieties, including Lengra, Gopalbhog, Fazli, Amropali, Khirsapati and Mohanbhog, are grown abundantly in the region.
In this season, around 18,000 hectares have been brought under mango cultivation. A target of 213,426 metric tonnes of mango has been set this year.
Rajshahi has been exporting mango to different European countries for the last couple of years after meeting up the local demand. The amount of exportable mango is expected to be around 100 tonnes this year.