Slump in mango crop leaves sour taste for ryots

Mango Crop
Mango Crop

April 14, 2013

VISAKHAPATNAM: Mangoes are set to leave a sour taste in the mouth as mango growers predict a drop of about 50% in the produce in the three north coastal districts this year.

Mango merchants have also expressed disappointment over the damage caused to the crop because of the abnormal temperature and attack of borer pest. The fruit traders hope that they would be able to send at least 60 per cent of the export requirement to other parts of the country through the Vizianagaram railway station, which is the hub for exporting mangoes collected by merchants from different parts of the three districts.

“Last year we had been able to export nearly 44 rakes of the mangoes (each rake consists 43 wagons and each wagon carries about 32 tons of mangoes, resulting in a total of 60,544 tonnes) to various parts of the country, particularly New Delhi, from the Vizianagaram station. This year we expect to export hardly 60% of the target compared to last year,” said Mopada Krishna Murthy, chairman of the Fruits Merchants Association, Vizianagaram.

Some mango farmers and officials of the horticulture department attributed the decline in the production to the unfavourable weather conditions as a result of cyclone Nilam, which struck in November 2012, and the borer pest.

More than 50 per cent of the production would be affected this year because of the abnormal weather conditions that prevailed during the flowering stage of the crop in February, said the horticulture officer at Srikakulam, Chandrasekhara Rao.

“The difference between the night and day temperature should be a maximum of 10 degree Celsius during the flowering stage of mangoes. However, this year, the weather condition was unfavorable to the crop. The temperature variations crossed the limit because of cyclone Nilam, which battered the coastal districts in November,” Rao said. The difference in temperature crossed 15 degree Celsius at most places, he said.

Srikakulam district’s average mango production is 3 tonnes per acre, but this time the production is expected to be around between 0.52 and 1 tonnes, said the horticulture officer.

The three districts mostly produce varieties such as Suvarna Rekha, Cheruku Rasalu and Banginapalli, the officer said.

Mango grower Nagumalli Appaji, who grows the fruit in 320 acres at Vizianagaram and Srikakulam districts, said that he lost a major part of the crop this time despite taking proper care and suggestions from horticulture officials.

“Abnormal temperature and attack of borer pest were the main reasons behind the crop damage,” Appaji said. The pest has a sharp horn in the head and has the capacity to bore into the trunk and the branches of the trees, thus making them weak, he said.

The damage would be more if any cyclonic storm or thunderstorm hits the coast in the next couple of weeks, Appaji said.

The director of the Cyclone Warning Centre, K Ramachandra Rao, said that thunderstorms are common in the pre-monsoon months starting from April, but as of now there are no predictions as they happen all of a sudden.

Another mango farmer from Chodavaram in Visakhapatnam district, K Malleswara Rao, said that prolonged fog conditions and abnormal moisture levels during the fruit-formation stage damaged the crop. “Tender mangoes have already started to drop from the trees in most of the gardens and the fruit quality would also be affected,” he said.

The king of fruits is cultivated in about 1,55,145 acres, including 92,625 acres in Vizianagaram, 39,520 acres in Visakhapatnam and 23,000 acres in Srikakulam districts. More than 3 lakh people including farmers, traders and vendors eke out their livelihood on the fruit every season, which begins in March and continues till the onset of monsoon in June. Source The Times of India

Published: Zarai Media Team

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