Growers in Orissa rue their mangoes get a raw deal outside the state even if they are the fist-sized,yellow Dasheharis or the reddish Gulab Khas,and even when their produce flood the markets at least a month before most varieties arrive from other states.
The script runs thus every year: Traders from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh queue up outside mango orchards of non-descript Orissa villages around April-end to pick truckloads of Dasheharis. They buy them dirt cheap for Rs 5-8 per kg from farmers who are anxious that their produce will rot away,thanks to lack of cold storage facilities here.
When the same Dashehari is wheeled into the mandis of Uttar Pradesh,Delhi or Haryana,it is sold for Rs 40-50 per kg. What is worse is that the traders mostly dont acknowledge that the mangoes are from Orissa,passing them off as from UP or Bihar,where the king of fruits is not ready for picking till May-end.
Apart from Dashehari,Orissa also produces Amrapali,Langra,Himsagar,Bombay Green,Lat Sundari,Totapuri,Banganpalli,Neelum and Gulab Khas varieties.
It is these traders who we seek to eliminate from the process. They underpay the farmers and dont even give us any credit. Though we are among the top 10 mango producers in India,our potential is underutilised due to lack of proper post-harvest management and intelligent marketing, said Sanjiv Chadha,state director,horticulture department.
In 2010-11,Orissa commercially produced 6.42 lakh tonnes of mango on 1.9 lakh hectares,while neighbouring Andhra Pradesh,Indias topmost producer,produced 41.39 lakh tonnes.
The reason why Orissa lags behind other states is not far to seek.
In Orissa,cold storage facilities are practically non-existent. Besides,there is no proper harvesting system and no ripening chamber where mangoes can be subjected to hot water treatment for uniform ripening. Here,farmers use calcium carbide,which is carcinogenic and does not ripen the fruit uniformly. There is no sorting and grading of mangoes during packaging,which is very vital in determining their cost, said
M D Singh,former head,Post Harvest Management division of Lucknow-based Central Institute for Sub-tropical Horticulture.
Adds professor Dilip Kumar Dora,head of the department,Post Harvest Management,of Bhubaneswar-based Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology: By merely waxing,usually with carnauba-based formulations,the mangoes look attractive. Waxing not only gives a gloss but reduces water loss,which makes mangoes look dull. Waxing will also ensure better price to the farmers.
The state horticulture department,which unveiled its ambitious plans of growing mangoes over 10 lakh hectares at a workshop on January 25,has now drawn out a roadmap that would make it break into the club of top five mango producing states.
This year,the department expects the production to touch 8 lakh tonnes. Though the fruit is grown in all the 30 districts,the department is now focusing on the districts of Mayurbhanj,Keonjhar and Angul where it plans to grow Dashehari and Amrapali commercially and market the products through distinct branding.
We will have mango packaging facilities and cold storage chains in these districts. With the help of a consultancy firm,we are trying to popularise Orissa mangoes in UP and also sensitise the mango farmers to the best practices followed by growers in that state, said Chadha.
Dr H S Singh of Bhubaneswar-based Central Horticultural Experiment Station suggests: Specific parts of Orissa need be declared and developed as mango export zone. A mango development fund may be provided for five years,on the lines of export zones of the country.The mango traders need to be identified.
Another problem that comes in the way of marketing in Orissa,is the small size of orchards that do not interest traders. To overcome this,the department now plans to have mango growers association in all districts to help small farmers send their produce outside Orissa.