Adverse weather conditions affect guava production

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Although guavas grown in Pirojpur Upazila and Jhalakathi Upazila can now reach markets in the capital in record time thanks to the Padma Bridge, farmers have been disappointed with a poor harvest as insufficient rainfall has hampered production. PHOTO: HABIBUR RAHMAN

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Although guavas grown in Pirojpur Upazila and Jhalakathi Upazila can now reach markets in the capital in record time thanks to the Padma Bridge, farmers have been disappointed with a poor harvest as insufficient rainfall has hampered production. PHOTO: HABIBUR RAHMAN

Unlike previous years, guava growers in four unions of the Pirojpur and Jhalakathi upazilas do not worry about getting the expected prices for their produce as the time needed to make shipments has drastically decreased with the opening of the bridge. Padma.

However, farmers are unhappy with the current harvest of seasonal fruits as they appear to be smaller than normal in size.

Farmers say they need at least 8-10 pieces of normal-sized guavas to make up a kilogram, but this year they need twice as much fruit for the same amount.

Also, the guavas are of lower quality because most of them are covered in spots from the disease, they said, adding that insufficient rainfall during the growing season is to blame for their shrinking size.

“The guavas swell after being wet with rainwater, but the rains came very late this year,” said farmer Md Nazrul Islam, citing the lack of rainfall even in the current rainy season.

Bhaben Mondal, another guava grower, echoed the same and said that there is little demand for small guavas as their quality is also lower than normal guavas.

“So if the weather favors us, we could double the production of our orchards,” said Bhabotosh Biswas, a guava grower and union parishad member of the Atghar Kuriana union in Pirojpur.

Chapal Krishna Nath, an agricultural officer from the Nesarabad upazila, said there was hardly any rain between April and May, when the guava trees needed a good amount of water to flower well.

Harvesting of the fruits usually starts in June, but was delayed by a month this year as they took longer to ripen due to lack of rainfall.

In July, rainfall was also low. The southern coastal division of Barishal recorded rainfall of 713 millimeters from July 1 to July 26, 66 percent less than the normal average rainfall of 2,075 millimeters, according to the Bangladesh Meteorological Department.

Chapal went on to say that with the onset of the rainy season, they expect the next batch of guavas to be healthier as the season will continue for another two months.

Guavas have been growing for about three centuries in Atghar Kuriana union, parts of Jalabari union in Nesarabad upazila and Kirtipasha and Nabagram unions in sadar Jhalakathi upazila.

Once the harvest is complete, the guavas are transported by boat to various local wholesale markets, where buyers pick them up for sale in other parts of the country, including the capital.

Currently, farmers can sell a maund (about 37 kilograms) of guava for over Tk 500, but the price is falling every year due to increased production.

However, farmers are expecting a fair price this year as it has become much easier and faster to transport guava across the country with the opening of the Padma Bridge.

Currently, guava orchards occupy 607 hectares of land in Nesarabad upazila and 530 hectares in Jhalakathi sadar upazila.

Md Mostafizur Rahman Talukder, Chief Scientific Officer of Barishal Regional Agricultural Research Station, said he is aware that guava production has been poor this year.

“Due to the hot weather, fruit production is hampered,” he added.

When guava trees flower, whiteflies attack them and this creates spots on the fruit while limiting their growth.

“So we suggest farmers to use pesticides to get rid of the problem.”

He then said that farmers were not using fertilizers in their orchards and that was another reason why the quality of production was declining.

Also, if farmers use the bagging method to grow the fruits, it would bring good results, he added.

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