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Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Maharashtra: Exports halted, mango farmers explore direct sale, food delivery platforms

Maharashtra’s mango season had started on a weak note, given that almost 40 per cent of the produce was destroyed due to unseasonal rains in September and October last year.

Written by Parthasarathi Biswas | Pune | Published: April 22, 2020 12:22:03 am
India lockdown, coronavirus outbreak, food delivery platforms, mango farmers, Mango season, export chain, Maharashtra news, indian express news The coronavirus crisis has thrown the export chain completely out of gear as phyto-sanitary inspectors from the USA and Japan could not come to the country. (Representational)

As exports remain suspended, mango farmers of Maharashtra have started exploring alternate chains to sell their produce in domestic markets. Direct sale to housing societies and tying up with online food delivery players has helped farmers explore newer markets for their produce.

Maharashtra’s mango season had started on a weak note, given that almost 40 per cent of the produce was destroyed due to unseasonal rains in September and October last year. Flower drop and late flowering has resulted in a dip, both in the quality and quantity of the fruit. The late arrival of mangoes in markets of Pune and Mumbai has impacted its price.

The coronavirus crisis has thrown the export chain completely out of gear as phyto-sanitary inspectors from the USA and Japan could not come to the country.

Alphonso is a premium export product from Maharashtra, with growers from Konkan vying to export majority of their produce. While the middle-eastern countries continue to account for bulk of the exports, the consignments which make their way to Europe or USA fetch better returns. Till date, around 2,235 tonnes of the fruit have left for overseas markets from the state.

Closure of wholesale markets had put a question before farmers on where they were to sell their produce.

Sunil Pawar, managing director of the Maharashtra State Agricultural Marketing Board (MSAMB), said the board has taken various initiatives to ensure farmers are able to sell their produce directly to the consumers. The Board had started publishing lists of farmers/farmers’ groups which can sell their produce directly to housing societies in Pune or Mumbai. “Orders have started coming in from cities like Nashik, Karad, Satara, Kolhapur and we have been diverting the farmers there,” he said.

The Board, Pawar said, will hire a godown where farmers can store their produce in Pune. “As the markets are closed, farmers who are unable to sell their produce at one go should have a place to temporarily store their produce. This godown will serve this purpose,” he said.

Along with farmers selling directly to housing societies, traders have also started exploring alternate channels to sell the fruit. Rohan Ursal and Sachin Paigude, traders who operate from Pune’s wholesale market, have tied up with a food delivery platform to enable delivery of mangoes to end consumers.

Partners in the DB Ursal and Sons, they said this model would see them managing the backyard linkage in terms of supplies of mangoes to the vendors, while the food delivery platform allows the last-mile connect between vendors and customers.

The model links vendors and sub-vendors in the city with farmers who wish to sell their produce. “In normal times, these vendors came to the marketyard to buy their produce, but as the market is closed, we are connecting the farmers with the vendors directly,” he said.

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