Agri Business

Alphonso mango farmers shun middlemen; relish sweet taste of self-reliance

Radheshyam Jadhav Pune | Updated on May 29, 2020

Despite the lockdown, this year, mango farmers in the Konkan region of Maharashtra reaped handsome gains. Breaking from the past practice of selling their produce to middlemen, they sold their produce of Alphonso mangoes to consumers, directly. That saw the farmers bag between ₹800 and ₹1,000 more for every box of three to six dozen mangoes, depending on the size of the fruit.

Districts including Sindhudurg, Ratnagiri and Raigad are known for the Alphonso variety. The mango season starts in March and continues till mid-June. However, the spread of Covid-19 followed by the lockdown put mango growers in a tight spot.

As the traditional supply chain dominated by middlemen broke down due to the lockdown, the State government asked farmers to take their produce directly to consumers in other parts of the State. Special passes were issued by the government to the farmers who transported the fruit.

Win-win situation

Vishnu Rajaram Dagre, a farmer in Devgad taluka, has about 400 mango trees. Every year, he sold his produce to a middleman at the rate of ₹800 per box. This year, he bagged ₹2,000 per box as he himself took the mangoes to the consumers.

One tree yields about 10 boxes of mangoes. For the cultivation of 100 trees, a farmer spends about ₹1-1.25 lakh every year. For every 100 trees, the farmer used to get about ₹8 lakh annually. But now, with no commission having to be paid to the middlemen, these farmers are taking home about ₹10 lakh from the same number of trees.

Also, consumers are getting mangoes at a cheaper price than before, as the middlemen sold the fruit at much higher prices. Like Dagre, the majority of farmers in Devgad taluka reaped benefits from the permission granted by the state government. Middlemen don’t pay cash immediately and farmers have to wait for the payment. But now farmers are getting immediate returns in this new supply system.

In Raigad district, the farmers formed a WhatsApp group named ‘Direct fruit supply’ and connected with the consumers. Through this platform, farmers have sold about 5,000 dozen mangoes till now.

For a good cause

Deciding to keep aside some amount from this money to help in the fight against Covid-19, these mango farmers donated ₹10,000 to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund, ₹9,200 to the District Disaster Management Cell, ₹10,000 to Belapur Municipal Corporation to buy medicines, and ₹10,000 to an NGO. Farmers also assisted members of the tribal community in Uran to buy seeds for sowing.

The State government’s publicity department is now communicating the mango story to farmers of other food stuff, so that they too learn to become self-reliant like the mango farmers of Konkan.

Published on May 29, 2020

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