King of mangoes alphonsoes are arriving in the market, but it seem to be within reach of only “royal” customers who don’t mind spending more to taste the fruit. The usual mango lover who hopes that “micro economics” of households does not come in the way of their taste buds and the much-sought-after fruit might have to just look the other way when alphonsoes are on display at shops. The price has shot up because yield has been hit and demand is high.
Unseasonal rain and hailstorms in the Konkan coast severely hurt mango production, traders say. They attribute a drastic three-fourths drop in yield this year to vagaries of nature. The yield so far has been 25 per cent of the usual, traders point out.
The hopes of traders expecting high returns from exports — the import ban on mangoes that several European Union countries had imposed on Indian mangoes has been lifted — have also withered this summer. Around 30 per cent of the produce is usually fit to meet export standards. This means just over 7 percent of the usual yield is good for export. Traders look at bulk exports to cover transport costs and earn high profits. The poor yield means exporting mangoes would not be economically feasible, said a trader.
The rain during the flowering season caused roughly around 75 per cent of mango flowers to drop, which meant that only around 25 per cent of flowers survived to turn into fruit, said a farmer. Diseases owing to the drop in temperature and high humidity has further reduced yield, a trader said. Since December, unseasonal rain has been lashing Alphonso-growing areas of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Karnataka. The Konkan coast of Maharashtra witnessed hailstorms and heavy rain in January and February, crucial flowering months.
Ajit Gogagate, chairman of Devgad Mangoes (a cooperative body of mango growers) said, “Both in Maharashtra and Karnataka, orchards have been hit by unseasonal rain and hailstorm. This resulted in shedding of flowers, which brought down yield,” he said. On an average, Maharashtra produces 50,000 metric tonne mangoes and Karnataka produces 1 lakh metric tonne a year.
Ashoke Hande, a trader with Navi Mumbai Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) said a dip in temperature induced diseases in mango fruit which further reduced yield. “Of the 25 per cent yield that would arrive in the market only 30 per cent (almost 8 percent of the usual yield) would be export-worthy. Apart from orchards in Maharashtra and Karnataka, those in Gujarat were hit,” he said.
Rohan Ursal, a trader in Pune’s APMC said mango arrivals in Pune market have been poor. “Last year, around 2,000 boxes of mangoes had arrived in the market in April, but this year we are not even getting 500 boxes. Due to poor yield, chances of mango getting cheaper in May look bleak,” he said.
As far as export economics is concerned, farmers are opting out. Just over 7 per cent mangoes produced this year is fit for export. The amount is too less to earn good profits from exports. This is because traders have to look at feasibility, which depends on bulk export, a trader said. He added that the fruits have to be kept fresh during transit and that also increases cost of transportation.
Dinesh Patankar, a farmer from Devgad, said, “Last year, I supplied mangoes for export to Gulf countries but this year I opted out. Economics will not match up this year,” he said.