80 crores of fertilizers and pesticides are used in Ishwardi only during litchi season

Commercial cultivation of litchi has been going on for about 42 years in Ishwardi Upazila of Pabna. When litchi season comes, 123 villages of 7 unions of this upazila become colorful with litchi. Litchi is the main cash crop of the farmers of this upazila. About 25 thousand metric tons of litchi are produced here every year. The market value of which is around Tk 500-550 crore.

Most litchi cultivation in the upazila is in Mirkamari, Charmirkamari, Maniknagar, Joynagar, Aotapara, Jagannathpur, Kadimpara, Mahadevpur and Sahapur villages. When the litchi season begins, the activity of the farmers here increases. Besides, the sale of fertilizer and pesticide traders started for about three months.

According to the information of farmers and fertilizer-pesticide traders, 72-80 crores worth of fertilizers and pesticides are used in litchi season in this upazila. Every year due to heavy use of fertilizers and pesticides, the soil here is losing its fertility. Still, the use of fertilizers and pesticides is increasing every year. Which is harming the human body in addition to the environmental disaster.

According to Upazila Agriculture Office sources, 3 thousand 100 hectares of litchi are cultivated in this upazila. Where there are 3 lakh 60 thousand litchi trees. 500-550 crore worth of litchi is produced here every year.

Farmers said that 15-20 types of fertilizers, pesticides and fungicides have to be used on each tree from budding to harvesting. The amount of fertilizer and pesticide is determined according to the age and size of the litchi plant. 2200 to 2500 taka for 30 to 35 year old trees, 1800-2000 taka for 15 year old trees and 1500-1800 taka for trees below 10 years old.

They said that fertilizers and pesticides cannot be calculated correctly. The use of fertilizers and pesticides depends on the weather conditions. Bad weather increases the use of pesticides and fungicides. As a result, the cost also increases. However, a medium-sized (15 years old) litchi tree requires two thousand rupees worth of fertilizers and pesticides. As a result, 72-80 crores worth of fertilizers and pesticides are used every year on 360,000 litchi trees in the upazila.

80 crores of fertilizers and pesticides are used in Ishwardi only during litchi season

Research shows that 15 to 20 types of fertilizers and pesticides are used in litchi cultivation. Fertilizers and pesticides are used for various reasons including protection from insect attacks, prevention of bud drop, healthy growth of trees and fruit growth, maintaining the color of litchi, protection from fungi. After budding of litchi, cypermethrin, nitrovanazine group insecticide sprays are widely used. Then according to the age of the plant, organic fertilizers and cow dung, MPO, TSP, carbofuran, boric acid, sulfur 80W, zinc sulfate (zinc), deep mixer fertilizer, imidacloprid and fipronil, lambda, carbondazim, vitamins (PGR) are used sequentially. Also, if there is a sudden increase in the attack of insects and fungi, more types of pesticides are used if necessary on the advice of agricultural officials and pesticide traders.

Soil resource researchers and ecologists say that the absence of essential organic matter from cropland causes the soil to freeze gradually. One of the reasons for this is the use of excessive chemical fertilizers and pesticides. The amount of heavy metals in the soil of Ishwardi’s litchi and vegetable fields is three times higher than normal. As a result, due to heavy metal pollution in these lands, the crops produced here are entering the food chain and causing danger to humans. Various types of diseases are increasing in the human body. The soil here is not safe for anything, environment and public health.

Aminul Islam Chandan, a litchi grower of Charakdimpara village in the upazila, told Jago News that there are about 500 litchi trees. I take care of the garden myself. I have calculated myself that a 15-year-old litchi tree needs to use about two thousand rupees of fertilizer and pesticides. As a result, crores of fertilizers and pesticides are used in this upazila during litchi season. Although pesticides are harmful to the environment, pesticides must be used in litchi cultivation.

Gold medalist litchi grower Abdul Jalil alias Kitab Mandal told Jago News that farmers in the region are using extra fertilizers and pesticides in litchi cultivation due to lack of proper experience. The health of the soil in this region is being severely disrupted. In this upazila, litchi is grown on 3100 hectares of land, and fertilizers and pesticides worth Tk 75 to 100 crore are used almost every season. Due to lack of proper training and experience farmers are using fertilizers and pesticides at will. Some farmers may not realize the serious health risks it poses, but some farmers are realizing it. But can’t find any solution. If the farmers could produce and use large quantities of organic fertilizers and organic pesticides, the environment would gradually recover from this crisis.

Mostafa Zaman Nayan Biswas, a fertilizer and pesticide trader of Maniknagar village in Salimpur upazila, said that a lot of fertilizers and pesticides are sold during litchi season. There are hundreds of fertilizer and pesticide dealers in the region. In my own shop, fertilizers and pesticides worth Tk 25-30 lakhs have been sold this season. We have upazila agriculture officers and sales representatives of various companies, they help the farmers with various advice on the use of fertilizers and seeds.

Jahangir Hossain Pappu, a pesticide dealer in Pathshala Mor of the upazila, told Jago News that a large amount of fertilizers and pesticides are used in hundreds of litchi gardens in the area. At this time our sales are good. Apart from selling pesticides and fertilizers, we also advise litchi farmers on their use.

Ishwardi Upazila Agriculture Officer Mita Sarkar said that litchi is produced on 3100 hectares of land in this upazila. 500-550 crore worth of litchi is sold every season. In order to obtain the desired yield of mass production of litchi, proper amount of fertilizers and pesticides must be used. I am advising the farmers in this regard. Besides this, we are encouraging the use of organic pesticides along with litchi bagging for safe litchi production. Trying to use organic pesticides instead of excessive chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

Farooq Hossain, Chief Scientific Officer of Soil Resources Institute, Pabna, told Jago News that I have surveyed the agricultural land of Ishwardi and collected the soil. Soil health in agricultural land is very poor. The soil is rich in sodium. Improper use of fertilizers and pesticides has seriously affected soil health.

Rajshahi University Institute of Environmental Science Professor Dr. Md. Redwanur Rahman told Jago News that the amount of heavy metals in the soil is very high after collecting soil and water samples of Ishwardi’s litchi plantation. The soil here has three times more heavy metals than normal soil. Which is very harmful for human body. Crops produced in this land enter the food chain through soil and water and people are suffering from various diseases. Future generations are facing serious threats along with complex diseases like kidney, liver, abortion and diabetes.