Mahfuz Emran: The pineapple growers in Madhupur are unhappy over the absence of any processing centre, specialised cold storage and marketing facilities. According to the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE), about 28,000 acres of land have been taken for pineapple farming in Madhupur. About 22,500 acres of land have been brought under pineapple farming in Tangail district, of which 18,750 acres are in Madhupur upazila alone. Madhupur upazila agriculture officer said that the GaintsKue variety is grown largely in the Madhupur zone. About 500 acres of land have been brought under the Honey Queen variety.
metric tonnes of pineapples have been produced in Madhupur in the current season. Growers say it costs Tk 10-12 to produce a pineapple. Big pineapples are being sold for Tk 25 a piece, medium ones for Tk 15 and small ones for Tk 5. Besides, farmers have to bear Tk 4-5 as transport and harvesting cost.
About 200 trucks and mini-trucks carry the fruit from Madhupur to other districts daily. About 100 trucks are loaded from the Jalchatra Bazaar, the country’s biggest pineapple market.
But local consumers are concerned as various chemicals, excessive insecticides, fertilisers, hormones and formalin are used in pineapple cultivation these days. Ripen, Tom-tom, Denofix, Superfix and chemicals of about 100 different types have flooded the pineapple-growing areas.
Farmers said the lifecycle of a pineapple is impacted by the use of hormones. Carbide is used for ripening and formalin for preservation.
A farmer of Zangalia village told that wholesalers from different districts like to buy coloured pineapples. To attract consumers, the farmers use growth hormones. Besides, formalin is used to prevent rotting for 10-15 days after harvesting.
Abdul Aziz of Ghatail upazila, a national award winning farmer, said that growers are not aware of the effects of hormone and formalin. Chemical companies press the farmers to use chemicals that should be banned.
Dr Md Abu Jobayer, a professor at the food technology and nutrition department of Mowlana Bhashani University, said: “Hormones and formalin are harmful for humans. The pineapple contains Vitamin C, carotene, minerals, potassium, calcium, and phosphorus, all of which protect the body from diseases. It contains fibre, which helps digestion.”
Agriculture scientists say they have developed a form of harmless hormone. But farmers are not aware of it. DD of DAE of Tangail told they are motivating farmers not to use harmful chemicals. He said the response was positive this year. There had been a 40 per cent reduction in the use of harmful drugs, he claimed.
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