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Covid, cyclone, cheaper rates — mango farmers in Gujarat stare at huge losses

Citing damage, canning and other companies manufacturing mango pulp and pickles, who were earlier purchasing mangoes at Rs 600 to Rs 700 per 20 kgs, have now started purchasing the fruit between Rs 100 to Rs 150 from the farmers.

Written by Kamaal Saiyed | Surat |
May 20, 2021 1:30:50 am
Maharashtra lockdownIn Valsad district, there are five APMCs where mangoes are sold -- Dharampur, Kaprada, Pardi, Valsad and Nanaponda. All the markets are presently flooded with mangoes of different types and grades. (Representational)

Mango farmers are staring at a great loss as traders from states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Jharkhand, who use to book the orchards earlier times, had this year not arrived in the state due to the Covid pandemic yet even as the total yield dipped. This week, high-velocity winds and unseasonal rainfall accompanying the cyclone Tauktae have also damaged the crop as over 20 per cent of the fruits have fallen off trees, farmers say.

Citing damage, canning and other companies manufacturing mango pulp and pickles, who were earlier purchasing mangoes at Rs 600 to Rs 700 per 20 kgs, have now started purchasing the fruit between Rs 100 to Rs 150 from the farmers.

Every year thousands of mango traders from the northeastern states come to Valsad and book mango orchards. These traders pay anything between Rs 5 lakh and Rs 70 lakh to farmers and sale the ripe fruits in metro cities of Gujarat and Maharashtra. Canning companies of South Gujarat and Maharashtra, which prepare pulp from the lower grade or unsold mangoes, also purchase the crop from traders and farmers.

Feroz Sindhi, a mango farmer of Dharampur taluka in Valsad district, said, “We have 750 trees of different types of mangoes like Rajapuri, Kesar, Dasheri, and Alphonso, in our orchard. We have faced great loss this year as the mango traders from other states had not turned up due to the Covid pandemic. Generally, these traders book mango orchards in February, and in March and April the mango start reaching the markets. Last year, they came and booked the orchards in February and took the yield before the lockdown started in the last week of March.”

This year, Sindhi said, the yield was around 35 per cent as compared to 2020 when the yield was 50 per cent. “Four days ago, I sold Alphonso and Kesar varieties of mangoes between Rs 1,200 and Rs 1,300 at the local Dharampur APMC. Due to the unseasonal rainfall and cyclonic winds, around 20 per cent of the total yield this year have fallen off the trees and got damaged. Today, I went to Dharampur APMC to sell the two varieties of mangoes, I was shocked to see that the prices have plummeted below Rs 200 per 20 kilograms. At present, I am facing a loss of Rs 10 lakh in mango farming,” he added.

In Valsad district, there are five APMCs where mangoes are sold — Dharampur, Kaprada, Pardi, Valsad and Nanaponda. All the markets are presently flooded with mangoes of different types and grades.

Valsad APMC senior member R R Mishra said, “Since last 50 years, I am involved in mango trading and this year we have got full stock of the mangoes and the reason is that traders of other states have not come. They usually purchase a major chunk and sell it to other metro cities in Gujarat and Maharashtra and even export to foreign countries. Those mangoes which are left over and not sold in the market are being purchased by the canning and other companies, which manufacture mango pulp, mango pickles, and ice creams. These companies are mostly located in Valsad and Surat in Gujarat and Mumbai and Pune in Maharashtra. These companies have now started purchasing mangoes from the farmers at cheaper rates.”

Another mango farmer from Pardi taluka Dharmesh Modi claimed the canning companies have reduced their prices this year. “Last year, we sold unsold and leftover mangoes to the agents of canning companies at something between Rs 600 and Rs 700 per 20 kgs. This year, they have put the price at Rs 100 to Rs 150 per 20 kgs for different types of mangoes. We have no other option left but to accept the price as the rainy season is round the corner,” Modi said.

Bhartiya Kishan Sangh president of Valsad district, Shashikant Patel said they will make representations to the Valsad district collector on Thursday and request compensation for the farmers affected due the cyclonic winds and rainfall.

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