The issue of repeated damage to the mango orchards in the Konkan region of Maharashtra was hotly debated in the Maharashtra Legislative Council on Thursday. In spite of repeated assurances by Horticulture Minister Vijaykumar Gavit about steps taken by his Ministry to help the farmers, opposition members remained unconvinced.

Mango is the principal crop of the Konkan region. The yearly earnings of the local farmers are in the range of Rs 2,200 to Rs 2,500 crore.

The Member of the Legislative Council (MLC) Vijay Sawant, raising the issue on the floor of the house said that orchards, since 2006, have been facing inclement weather and increasingly high number of pest attacks. Extreme temperature is affecting flowering of mango trees.

Irregular flowering impacts the process of fruit formation. The trees are also under attack from insects and the local Konkan Agriculture College has no solutions to these problems, he said.

Gavit said that the local college has inadequate staff and equipment for the department of Meteorology, but still they were making attempts to reach out to the farmers. Studies are underway to gauge the impact of changing weather on the fruits. Surveys in 12 orchards have shown that fruit formations have been impacted due to excess flowering of the trees.

Pest attack especially of ‘Thrips’ variety of insects has increased over the last four years. The college has developed pesticides for such insects, he said.

MLC Bhai Girkar said that in spite all the efforts, farmers continue to suffer crop damage.

(This article was published on March 14, 2013)
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