Three cold storages for mangoes being built in Rajshahi

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RAJSHAHI, June 20, 2021 (BSS)- A number of three cold storages are being established on pilot basis for the first time in the region aimed at preserving mango and other high-valued fruits and vegetables.

The cold storages — one each at Shibpur under Puthiya Upazila in Rajshahi, at Natore Sadar Upazila and at Shibganj Upazila in Chapainawabganj district — will help the farmers protect their mangoes and other perishable goods from being wasted for around one month.

Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) is setting up the cold storages under its project titled “Agriculture Development Project of Rajshahi Division through Extension of Modern Technology” creating hope among the mango growers and traders.

“Construction works of the storages are expected to be completed within the shortest possible time,” said Dr SM Hasanuzzaman, Director of the project, adding the venture will benefit the growers and traders of various seasonal fruits and other vegetables.

He said the five-year project is being implemented in 67 Upazilas of all eight districts in the division at a cost of around Taka 147.03 crore since January, 2020.

Rajibul Islam, one of the traders at Baneshwar Bazar under Puthiya Upazila, said around 30 to 40 percent of mangos produced in the region gets wasted before being sold in the absence of proper storage and transport facilities.

Growers cannot sell mango in the domestic market as it becomes ripe and they do not have access to a chilling centre for preserving their mango.

It has, unfortunately, become common in recent years that growers incur losses when they have a bumper mango production, Islam added.

In the absence of a proper marketing mechanism for their produce, growers in general have to sell their product at reduced prices even less than their average production cost.

Growers mostly are obliged to sell their mango to meet their day-to-day expenditure and repay the money that they have to borrow from others to fulfill the cost of production.

The growers have no other options but to sell their product at a price much lower than the production cost.

In order to save the growers, it needs to build more cold storages and ensure uninterrupted power supply to them for preserving mango.

To facilitate the consumption of mango, they also need to attach importance to establishing more agro-processing industries in their efforts to buttress the growers from crumbling and to ensure a proper marketing mechanism.

Meanwhile, mango farmers and traders are facing a devastating situation with their seasonal fruits in the region because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Wholesalers from outside of the district aren’t coming here due to the lockdown and fear of Covid-19 infection,” said Abul Hossain, a grower of Char Mazar Diar village under Paba Upazila, adding that the adverse situation has been pushing them into loss.

He had expected to harvest around 100 maunds of mangoes this season and but has, so far, sold around 40 maunds. “There is no person or place to sell the remaining 60 maunds at present,” he said with a grim face.

Not only he, similar debacle situations have been prevailing in the region, famous for mango production, he added.