Mango growers from Konkan have urged the state government to pay them compensation for the crop loss suffered by them due to unseasonal rain last year. Chandrakant Mokal, president of the Maharashtra State Mango Growers Association, claimed this year the state will see just 20 per cent of its normal production.
Unseasonal rain in October and November saw mango orchards of Konkan — home of the fabled Alphonso mangoes — sustaining heavy losses. This has affected the flowering of the orchards and, instead of March, the first fruit of the season will hit the markets only in May. “Flowering in most orchards started late and farmers will have to spend extra to enable the fruit to set in,” he said.
Maharashtra has around 1 lakh hectares of mango orchards, which are concentrated mainly in the Konkan and Marathwada regions. Alphonso, from the Konkan districts of Sindhudurg, Ratnagiri and Alibaugh, are famed for their unique taste and colour and has made its presence felt in overseas markets. For financial year 2018-19, India exported 46,510 tonnes of the fruit with the total value of exports at $60.26 million. Over the last three years, Indian mangoes have been facing the double whammy of climate change and pest attack, affecting growers.
Mokal said this year, total production will be down by more than 80 per cent. “Exports would be negligible — quality of the fruit coming to markets will be below the quality parameters needed for exports,” he said.
Recently, Mokal met Agriculture Minister Dadasaheb Bhuse to seek compensation for mango growers.
Sanjay Pansare, a trader operating in Vashi’s wholesale market, said the first produce will arrive in the market only after April 25. “There will be exports but everything will depend on the quality,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Maharashtra State Agricultural Marketing Board plans to test new markets by sending a consignment of mangoes to Argentina. Exports to European countries, though smaller than Middle East countries, are preferred as these countries fetch a better premium. The board last year successfully sent an export consignment by sea, which it hopes to further explore this year. Transportation by sea is much cheaper than air but wastage is a major concern.
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