Litchi is being cultivated on 5,200 hectares of land in the district this year – with a production target of 60,000 tonnes
The litchi trees in the orchards of Dinajpur district are already covered in blooms. The blooms have brought smiles back to the faces of the farmers. This time, they hope to get a bumper harvest that compensates for the losses they suffered last year.
The farmers say the litchi trees have blossomed a little early this year.
Agriculturists say this is due to the prolonged winter and low temperature that hampered tree growth.
Dinajpur has already earned the name "District of Litchi" and its reputation has spread at home and abroad.
Sources from the Dinajpur Horticulture Centre said about 5,000 hectares of land produced 50,000 tonnes of litchis in 13 upazilas of Dinajpur in the last year.
Litchi is being cultivated on 5,200 hectares of land in the district – with a production target of 60,000 tonnes.
The district produces several varieties of litchis including the: Bombai, Madrazi, China-3, Bedena, and Kathali.
After harvesting, the litchis are supplied to different districts including Dhaka and Chattogram.
Horticulture Centre sources said, usually the litchi trees start blossoming in the beginning of March and they are in full bloom by mid-March.
However, the trees blossomed about 15 days earlier this season. The farmers hope to get both a good harvest and a good price for their produce.
Last year, ripe litchis appeared on the markets during Ramadan. So, many farmers did not get their expected price.
Mostaque Ahmed, a litchi grower in Mukundapur area in Sadar upazila said, "It takes about 15 days for litchi trees to form a flower; about 30 more days are required for the flower to bloom into a full-grown litchi."
"Then it needs 35 to 45 more days for those to appear on the market," said Mostaque. He added that the process from bloom to sale takes about three months – depending on the fruit's variety.
Abdul Khaleque of Masimpur area of Dinajpur sadar upazila said, "I started nursing the orchard as soon as those started blooming. I have irrigated the orchard, applied pesticides and medicine."
Jewel Islam of the same area said, "last year there was a little less production as the orchards were attacked by pests. The price was also lower due to Ramadan and resulted in a low profit," he added.
Another farmer of the area, Ramzan Ali said, the Bombai variety of litchis has bloomed very well this time. Additionally, "a little rainfall a few days ago was a blessing for litchi," said the litchi grower.
Moksedul Islam of Mahmudpur village in Sadar upazila said, "I have as many as 125 litchi trees in my orchard. Last year the officials from the Department of Agricultural Extension [DAE] did not help the farmers. As a result, we were helpless facing attacks by pests."
"We did not get any respite from the problem. We also had less production. I hope this year we can make up for the losses," Moksedul said.
"This time we will get good price as the litchis will come onto the market after Ramadan," he added.
Another farmer named Shah Jalal said, "I started nursing my litchi trees before they started blooming. So, the litchis were healthy and production will be greater."
Pradip Kumar Guha, deputy director of Dinajpur Horticulture Centre said, this time the winter was prolonged.
"The temperature went below eight degrees Celsius. Alongside low temperatures for a prolonged period, a number of cold waves hampered the physical growth of the trees. So, the trees bloomed early," said Pradip.
"The farmers are being provided with technical knowledge and counselling about nursing the trees," he added.
He said, "steps should be taken to preserve and process the fruits to benefit the farmers. The process will create more employment for the people," reflected the Dinajpur Horticulture Centre director.