More than 1,200 farmers, who have cultivated palm oil trees on their land, have incurred huge financial losses. THey could not sell palm fruits for lack of buyers.
Palm fruits produced by the trees have been damaged for not being harvested in a timely manner. In some orchards, insects are eating the ripened fruits as the growers have totally given up taking care the plants due to it not selling it in the markets.
During the regime of the army-backed caretaker government in 2008, more than 1,200 farmers of the district planted about 30,000 palm oil trees on their arable land and at the surrounding areas of homesteads being encouraged by the officials of some NGOs including, Green Bangladesh (GB) and Palli Unnayan Sangstha.
In Sadullapur upazila, the popularity of palm oil tree farming is higher than other upazilas as more than 350 farmers planted about 10,000 saplings of the variety, said Upazila Agriculture Officer Obaidur Rahman Mondal.
Officials of the NGOs had encouraged farmers, saying that if any farmer cultivated only two or three palm oil trees, the demand of edible oil in a six- to seven-member family would be fulfilled and they would not need to buy soybean oil from the market at higher prices.
The officials also advised farmers that if anyone cultivated 100 saplings of the variety for commercial purpose, they would be able to earn Tk540,000 after four years against the cost of Tk50,000.
Farmers of the district bought saplings of palm oil trees from them in cash, and planted them instead of farming other high value crops, with the hopes of getting good returns.
The trees fruited well by mid-2013. Farmers were happy to see fruits on the trees, and dreamed of earning profits which would change their socio-economic condition.
M Shahadat Hossain, palm oil tree cultivator in Chhaigari village, Sadullapur upazila, said he had purchased 35 saplings of palm oil trees at Tk10,000 from GB and planted it on one bigha of land at the end of 2008.
The NGO officials then pledged to farmers that they would buy palm fruits after its harvest, he said, adding that after repeated attempts they could not be reached as their mobile phones were switched off.
Another palm trees cultivator Abdur Rashid said he too was in problem with the palm fruit, as he could not utilise the palm fruit since he did not having oil manufacturing machines and customers.
Deputy Commissioner Dr Quazi Anwarul Haque told the correspondent that he was aware of this matter and had taken an initiative to create a market linkage for the growers so that they could make profit by selling their produce to the customers.