In India, this year’s markets will be full of mangoes. Orchard owners say that since the mango exports and the inter-state mango trade have been badly affected following the lockdown and ongoing corona crisis, mango growers in the Malihabad belt have no option than to pump in the supply to the state capital or neighbouring districts. This is also likely to bring down the prices.
“It’s a double whammy for mango growers. Not only are they battling the lockdown effect on the mango crop but also there is less produce this year. We don’t have any option than to pump in whatever produce we have to Lucknow or neighbouring districts since the traditional buyers from other states haven’t placed any orders this time. But this will only be possible if the lockdown opens up and there are plenty of vehicles available to facilitate the transportation of mangoes,” said Insram Ali, president of All India Mango Growers Association.
The Hindustan TImes quoted Ali as saying that Lucknow’s mango belt that also fetched it the title of ‘mango capital’, comprised of Malihabad, Mall and Kakori. “In all three tehsils, the records of the horticulture department suggest mango is produced on 23,589 hectares of land. Mallihabad is said to be the largest contributor to the total mango production (from the mango belt) with over 10,000 hectares of land engaged in mango farming,” he added.
Mango production records 65% decline in Dhenkanal
However, not all is good news. The Dhenkanal district, an administrative division of Odisha that is traditionally a stronghold for mango production, recorded a sharp decline in output this year amid the ongoing lockdown.
According to the Dhenkanal horticulture department, mango production in the district is estimated to be about 15,2 tons this year as compared to 43,2 tons last year – a 65 per cent decline.
According to an orissapost.com report, Dhenkanal’s Amrapali, Dasheri, Langra, Himsagar and other varieties of mangoes have customers in states such as Jharkhand, Bihar and Delhi. Mangoes from here also have a sizeable market in Bangladesh as well. That said, the production has reduced to such an extent that even local demands cannot be met this year, farmers say.
Fungal diseases hit Haridwar crop
Thirdly, timesofindia.indiatimes.com has reported that fungal diseases have severely hit mango crops in Haridwar -a district of Uttarakhand. This is taking a toll on around 30% of the total produce, say growers of the fruit. This, they claim, has affected the incomes of nearly 5,000 farmers involved in mango plantation in the district.
These diseases occur because of an insect pest known as mango hoppers. These insects suck the nutrients from soft tissues of leaves, flowers, and fruits and release sweet liquid onto the leaves which leads to fungal infection in trees. As a consequence, the fruit drops from the infected tree prematurely.
Rakam Singh Saini, former village head of Ibrahimpur Masaai village near Bhagwanpur, said: "About 50% of my standing mango crop is ruined because of the outbreak of these fungal infections. Non-seasonal rain spells in March and April left moisture in the air and that is why, even the spraying of pesticide on mango trees didn't help."
In Haridwar, mango orchards are spread over 5,000 hectares and the district produces more than 23,700 tonnes of mangoes yearly.