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Low exports and high cost plague Alphonso mangoes

Untimely rains in January and February in the Alphonso-growing regions of Ratnagiri and Devgad in Konkan have played havoc with mango exports.

Written by Ranjani Raghavan | Pune |
April 28, 2009 1:24:14 am

Untimely rains in January and February in the Alphonso-growing regions of Ratnagiri and Devgad in Konkan have played havoc with mango exports. The resultant shortage has led to domestic prices rising this year.

Last year,the Maharashtra State Agriculture Marketing Board (MSAMB) had exported 9.09 tonnes of Alphonso mangoes to the US and 5.56 tonnes to Japan. This year,so far,it has not been able to export anything to either country. MSAMB sources said private traders have however exported around 25 tonnes so far.

“Exports have been hit,but we hope they will pick up by May. Until now,only four traders have sent consignments abroad. Others haven’t managed because market rates are high and productivity has been low,” said a senior MSAMB officer.

Farmers say the yield from Konkan this year has reduced 30-35 per cent,changing the pattern of exports; traders are using Alphonso mangoes from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu,repackaging and branding them Ratnagiri/ Devgad Alphonsos for exports,they say.

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The MSAMB denies the charge. “Our staff on the field ensures that the mangoes exported by the trader are from the registered farmer,” the officer said.

Because of the low yield,prices in the domestic market are also higher than during last year’s Akshaya Tritiya,when people generally start buying mangoes. Anil Dharvekar,a mango grower from Ratnagiri,has already lost a significant portion of his harvest to the rains. “Each of my 700 mango trees ready for harvest ought to yield 8-10 boxes of mangoes; this year it has been only around 2-3 boxes each,” said Dharvekar.

Ahead of Akshaya Tritiya,on Sunday the Pune Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) was flooded with Alphonso mango consignments as other market committees in Mumbai and Gujarat were shut. This brought prices down to an extent.

“On Sunday,we got 10,000 boxes of ripe mangoes for Akshaya Tritiya; and 10,000 boxes each of raw mangoes from Konkan and the South. We were able to sell most of it,” said Shivlal Bhosale,APMC president.

This brought the prices down from Rs 300- Rs 650 a kg to Rs 150-Rs 300 per kg for raw mangoes – the cost of ripe mangoes being another Rs 100 per kg.

“After Akshaya Tritiya,we normally begin buying mangoes- around four dozens a week. This time the prices are high,yes. They say it’s because of the rains. But the mango season lasts only a few weeks each year,we will not cut down on our consumption,” said Datatreya Pawar,a customer at the APMC market

Clearly,there will be no shortage of takers for Alphonsos in Pune.

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