Mango crop doing well despite hailstorm

MAY 6, 2013

Mango Crop
Mango Crop

THE mango crop this year is expected to be slightly affected due to hailstorm in Mirpurkhas and parts of Sanghar. However, according to assessment of research and horticulture officials, the crop yield will be by and large satisfactory since it’s doing well in other areas.

But farmers disagree. “An overall drop of 20 per cent is expected in production this year keeping in view the orchards affected by the hailstorm in Matiari and Mirpurkhas region”, says Nadeem Shah, who manages mango farms in these districts. Shah feels northern winds damaged the crop and that flowering was also affected this year which subsequently hit fruit setting.

“Instead of proper flowering, we saw flushing (growth of new leaves) in the trees and powdery mildew caused shedding as well”, he says. The fruit, which usually arrives in markets by beginning of May, will now enter during the middle of the month. “We witnessed unusual rains in September especially at the time when monsoon season was supposed to end,” says Director General Agriculture Research Dr Atta Soomro, who doesn’t seem too concerned with this year’s storm reported in summer. “The storm was not that heavy that it may result in
serious damage to crop”, he says.

But Director, Sindh Horticulture Research Institute (SHRI) Noor Mohammad Baloch believes that not just district Mirpurkhas, but the entire division has been affected by the hailstorm. Since the orchards in Mirpurkhas district had remained under rainwater for a long time the underground water table rose in the absence of proper drainage system which damaged the yield. Resultantly, some farmers had to cut their trees.

Baloch, however, agrees that drop in production would not be very significant since crop in other traditional mango producing areas is safe.
Despite an extended winter season, Mango crop in districts like Tando Allahyar, Matiari, Tando Mohammad Khan and Nawabshah and pockets of Hyderabad and Jamshoro is progressing quite well. A few growers complained of minor pest attacks against the crop but this has not led to any considerable loss.

A few mango growers sell their orchards to contractors for a certain period in exchange of a lump sum. Contractors then look after the orchards. Since they are usually not very well-versed with mango farming issues and also lack expertise on how to tackle the crop at different stages, it affects the production.

Aslam Arain is one such contractor. He is managing a mango orchard in Husri area and another one in Tando Allahyar. He says that usually around one dozen trucks, each carrying 800 to 1000 mango boxes (weighing around 10 to 15 kg), are dispatched to the market.
However, this year, the number may drop due to powdery mildew attack on the crop.

“I did work hard to contain it, but somehow, it damaged the crop,” he says.

This is why progressive farmers like Imdad Nizamani are against selling of orchards on contract basis, and believes that one needs to own
one’s gardens to have a big production of quality mangoes.

Mango is grown in Sindh on around 60,000 hectares. Previously, farmers had started cutting mango trees which were replaced by profitable crops like cotton and sugarcane. However, when they suffered losses especially in cotton, Soomro compelled farmers to revert to mangoes. According to Soomro growers who are opting for mango production now will have to wait for some years for the trees to mature enough to produce fruit. He adds that Sindh had always come up with impressive mango production figures in the past.

Mirpurkhas district is considered home of mango production with highest cropped area. According to crop reporting centre of Sindh Agriculture Department, total area under mango cultivation increased to 60,467 hectares in 2012 from 60,055 hectares in 2011. The production in 2012 was recorded at 396,137 metric tonnes, according the department whereas in 2011 it was 391,781 metric tonnes. Source The DAWN

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