The cyclone Amphan has dealt a body blow for mango farmers in the Rajshahi region, already reeling under the coronavirus outbreak, victims and officials said on Thursday.
The very severe storm that pummelled coastal and north-western Bangladesh on Wednesday destroyed nearly 12-15 per cent of different varieties of green and ripened mangoes in thousands of orchards in the key growing region.
Mango growers and businessmen said both the natural calamities would cause losses worth of billions of taka in Rajshahi, Chapai Nawabganj, Naogan and Natore districts, which account for almost half the country's total mango production.
A girl picking up mangoes knocked off the trees due to cyclone Amphan at an orchard in Rajshahi city on Thursday — Collected
Amphan alone destroyed nearly 12-15 per cent of mangoes, costing an estimated Tk 4.8 million, the agriculture department and local mango growers said on Thursday.
The Department of Agriculture Extension has set a target of nearly 0.80 million tonnes of mango production in Chapai Nawabganj, Rajshahi, Natore and Naogaon districts.
According to the DAE, the mango orchards were projected to produce 0.21 million tonnes in Rajshahi, 0.32 million tonnes at Chapai Nawabganj, 0.24 million tonnes in Naogaon and 32,294 tonnes in Natore this year.
If the mango production target is fulfilled, the Rajshahi region could produce 0.80 tonnes of mangoes this season and the farm-level price is estimated at around Tk 32 million, agriculturists said.
Thousands of farmers, daily labours, transport owners and workers, seasonal small and medium traders, and parcel services are involved in mango business.
The money circulation and the turnover of this season relating to the mango business is billions of taka during each mango harvesting season, said the businessmen and agriculturists in Rajshahi.
Deputy director of DAE in Rajshahi Shamsul Huq on Thursday said some 12-13 per cent green and matured mango was destroyed at the orchards across the Rajshahi regional production hub due to the cyclone Amphan.
When the producers were struggling with their mango marketing, the cyclone has dashed their hopes, he said.
Wahed Mollah, a mango trader in Rajshahi, told the FE that he had leased three big mango orchards at Bagha upazila in Rajshai for a three-year period.
"Last year, I sold mangoes of this three orchards at Tk 0.12 million. The Amphan destroyed nearly one-fourth of my matured and ripened mangoes last night. I don't know, whether I can recover labour and caretaking costs of the orchard," he said.
Shohidul Islam, a mango trader at Shibganj upazila of Chapai Nawabganj district, told this correspondent that he had failed to sell his ripened mangoes over the last one week due to the Coronavirus-induced shutdowns.
"It seems the Amphan has pierced my heart, not my orchards. The calamity has destroyed some one-third of my ripened and matured mangoes," he said breaking into tears.
"Every year, I used to sell mangoes to the traders in Dhaka with a good price. This year, there is no buyer to date. How will I recoup my losses"," Mr Shohidul said.
Mamunur Rashid, a wholesaler at Rajshahi city's Shaheb bazar area, said he sold different varieties of ripened mangoes of Tk 0.10 million daily last season.
"This year, I have failed to open my store due to the shutdown. The deadly virus will cause losses worth millions of taka. I do not know how I will cope with my losses," he said.