The traditional Basundia jackfruit haat in Jashore from where thousands of jackfruits go to different districts every season now looks almost deserted for lack of buyers and the blame goes to Covid-19 pandemic and cyclone Amphan.
Just ahead of the jackfruit season, cyclone Amphan hit the region hard and destroyed crops and trees, including that of jackfruit, resulting in short supply of jackfruits to the haat this time, they said.
Besides, they added, fewer buyers visit the market due to transport crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, causing frustration among the jackfruit growers.
Mizanur Rahman Khan, a local businessman, said they have heard from their grandparents that this preferred market is hundreds of years old.
Traders from far from Barisal, Patuakhali, Madaripur and other places in the south used to come here to buy jackfruits and ship those in big trawlers, he said. Jackfruits used to be transported by roads to different districts, too.
Apart from Jashore, jackfruit traders from Narail, Khulna, Jhenaidah and Magura used to bring jackfruits to this market.
“Now things have changed. As the jackfruit supply has declined, the market is no longer a popular destination,” he said.
Besides, the trader alleged, many traders do not want to come to the market due to harassment by extortionists.
Kabir Khan, another businessman, said 50-80 truckloads of jackfruits used to be transported to different parts of the country from this haat every day, but this time only 8-10 trucks are carrying the delicious summer fruit.
In addition to transportation problem, there are administrative restrictions too, said local traders adding that the local administration is obstructing people from gathering at the haat as part of social distancing rules to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
In many cases, they said, law enforcers are using force to remove buyers and sellers which discourages them to visit the market.
According to the District Agriculture Office, there are jackfruit trees on about 1,000 hectares of land and there has been plentiful yields of the fruit this time in Sadar, Chougachha, Jhikargachha upazilas.
According to farmers, they are not getting the fair price this time as they are unable to go outside the district with their produce due to the coronavirus situation.
Azizur Rahman of Petvara village in Chougachha upazila said he has counted heavy losses this year due to the abnormal situation created by corona and cyclone Amphan.
Local jackfruit farmers said they suffered a double blow this time as traders neither bought jackfruits from their orchards nor the market.
Akhtaruzzaman, Deputy Director of the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), said both Amphan and Covid-19 have caused huge damages to the agricultural sector in the region and elsewhere in the country and that is why the farmers are in trouble.