The imposition of lockdown aiming to check spread of Coronavirus in Chapainawabganj district is paying a heavy toll on mango trade during the current season.
With the increase of lockdown for a week further from last Tuesday amid this peak plucking time of mango, the impact on the largest mango market at Kansat under Shibganj upazila is clearly visible. Usually during this season, 'Mango Fair' is held every day at his market where thousands of people including mango farmers, traders thronged here from early morning daily carrying basketful of mangoes on bicycles, Bhutbhuti or on the mini trucks.
The Kansat mango market remained crowded daily with traders and customers from all over the country. But, this year, the scenario has been abruptly changed. The market is now deserted with no traders and customers of mangoes. Mango producers, mango farmers and mango traders of the district are apprehending to incur a huge loss if such situation contines to prevail furthermore. Every year mango producers and traders deal in more than Tk 1,000 crores of mango trade. They are worried. This year there will be a landslide loss in their mango trade.
It is learnt that the first phase of the week long lockdown aiming to control Coronavirus spread ended on Monday last. But, there having no improve of Coronavirus situation, the tenure of lockdown has been exended by the Deputy Commissioner for further one week in the district. As a result of the lockdown, mango traders from various places of the country are failing to arrive in Chapainawabganj.
Though the mango traders have ben given the permission to move through the district, the customers from outside the district are worried and not taking courage to arrive in the mango markets of Chapainawabganj due to detection of Indian variant of Coronavirus among patients of the district.
Moreover, movement of vehicles to carry mangoes is also not enough in the district for the same reason. As a result, mango growers, traders and customers are facing a severe crisis in dealing with mango in the district this year.
All the entrances of the C'nawabganj town are being guarded by police. Police is intercepting and quizzing even the motor bike riders. Most of the shops except the restaurants of the town remained closed. Only the people with urgent jobs were seen to come out of their houses. As a result, no one seems to have any headache with the mango.
Wholesale mango traders from various places of the country are also failing to reach to Chapainawabganj.
As a result, mango growers and mango traders of Kansat and other places of the district are extremely worried. Apprehending to not getting any customer, mango growers are not plucking mangoes from the trees though many of those are getting ripened on the trees.
They are further worried if customers are not available within a couples of days, mangoes of mango trees will ripen and fall or rot on the trees. Already mangoes are getting ripened on many trees. Some of the mango growers themselves were supplying mangoes direct to Dhaka and other places of the country after making contact with the wholesale mango traders over telephone but the number of such growers is meager.
Braving the lockdown, a couple of mango growers were seen to arrive at Kansat Bazaar with several vans of mango on Tuesday morning but they had to wait till noon to sell the mangoes.
Meanwhile, in the previous years, more than 300 wholesale mango store houses (hoarders) have been set up at Kansat area on both sides of Shibganj-Kansat road but, trading on only six to seven of those have been started this year.
Hasan Ali, owner of Swarna Trading ( store house) informed even last year he purchased at least 20 vans of mango daily but this year mango producers are not approaching to the markets fearing Coronavirus infection.
Another mango trader Ashraful informed during previous years mango growers with hundreds of vans and bicycles full of mango baskets thronged both sides of the road of Kansat to sell mangoes. But, this year the road is empty.
Mango traders at Kansat Bazar informed, in previous years at least 70 to 80 truckful of mangoes were being transported from Kansat to various places of the country but this year less than 1o truckful of mangoes are being carried from here to various places of the country and most of these mangoes are being collected by the wholesale traders direct from the gardens through mobile contact.
Mango grower Asadul Alam of Shahbazpur area of Shibganj informed he cultivated mango on four and a half bigha of land this year. Mangoes on the trees are getting ripened and ready to pluck. In previous years, mangoes were sold before those are matured. The wholesale mango traders used to purchase the mango of the entire garden. But, he said, there was no wholesale mango traders in the district yet and only God knows what will the ultimate condition of the mangoes of the orchards of the district.
Omar Faruk Tipu, General Secretary of Kansat Mango Hoarders Cooperative Association informed though the administration is insisting to sell mango through online, it is not possible to sell all the mangoes of the orchards of the district through relying on online only. He added, only five percent of total mangoes of C'nawabganj might be sold through online trading and the rests 95 percent of mangoes must be sold through Kansat Bazaar. But, if the wholesale traders do not arrive to the markets, there will be no sell of mangoes.
Though the administration has permitted the arrival of the traders from outside and to reside in the hotels by maintaining health rules, only a few are daring to arrive in Chapainawanganj and in Kansat due to Coronavirus panic and the lockdown. Thousands of mango farmers and the mango traders of the district will face a huge loss in such situation continued to prevail furthermore.
Deputy Commissioner of Chapainwabganj Monjurul Hafiz said the administration was ready to render all sort of cooperation for selling and bargaining of mangoes. The department of Agriculture will issue identity cards for mango farmers and mango traders, if they feel it necessary. All concerned have been instructed to continue their business by following social distance and the health rules. He hoped the panic of Coronavirus from among mango traders and growers will soon be removed and the mango trading in the district will resume in the full swing.