As the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic tightens its grip across the country, mango growers fear it would hurt demand for the fruit as they gear up to harvest their produce.
After facing adverse weather conditions triggered by unseasonal rains during flowering and fruit setting period, which has impacted the production in several regions, growers now face the challenge to market their produce amidst the second wave.
For the varieties that are already harvested, there’s a mixed trend in prices across different regions, depending on the demand-supply and also the ease of marketing the produce.
UP to begin harvest
In Uttar Pradesh, the largest mango producing State where varieties such as Dasheri and Chausa are grown, the harvest is set to begin in second half of May.
“Growers are worried about the spread of coronavirus. If the lockdown and the restrictions imposed by the Government continues, then there will be problem marketing the produce. We have urged the government to keep the mandis open and allow transportation of the produce,” said S Insaram Ali, President, Mango Growers Association of India in Malihabad. Ali said the buyers and commission agents, who normally make advance payments to the growers by booking their produce are absent this year. The production in Uttar Pradesh is seen higher this year. “We are expecting the crop to be around 40 lakh tonnes,” Ali said.
Hoping for the best
In Karnataka’s Kolar district, the largest mango producing region in the State, harvest will begin from May 15. “Growers are keeping their fingers crossed and are watching the situation,” said Raja Reddy, Advisor to the Srinivasapura Mango Farmer Producing Company in Kolar.If the lockdown and other curbs to contain the spread of virus are extended, growers could face the challenge in moving their produce to processing units in Chittor and Krishnagiri districts of neighbouring Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, he said. “Last year also we faced problems in moving the produce, but the crop was small and the demand was more. This year, we are expecting a higher crop of around 4.5-5 lakh tonnes in Kolar alone,” Reddy said.
Totapuri is the main variety produced in Kolar, which normally gets processed in the neighbouring States, while the district also produces other varieties such as Alphonso, Malllika, Malgoa and Sendura. Kolar, which attracts buyers from far off States such as Rajasthan, Assam and Maharashtra among others, is yet to hear from them this year, Reddy said. Last year, mango growers of Kolar did not feel the impact of Covid as the harvest coincided with the lifting of lockdown.
In Ramnagara, another major mango producing district of Karnataka, the harvest began a month ago and growers got good price in the early part of the harvest season. “The statewide lockdown has impacted the trade and prices have dropped now,” said MC Swamy of Ramanagar District Mango and Coconut Farmer Producer Company.
Decline in prices
Growers of Badami or Alphonso variety, which got a price of ₹140-150 per kg during the pre-lockdown days in Ramanagara district are now getting ₹50-60 a kg now. Similarly, the prices of Raspuri, Sendura and Neelam varieties have also seen a decline, Swamy said. Horticulture expert, SV Hittalamani said the growers are directly marketing their produce in large apartment complexes of Bengaluru.
According to the first advance estimates for horticulture crops released by the agriculture ministry in March this year, mango production is seen higher at 21.12 million tonnes from the final estimates of 20.26 million tonnes in the previous year. The mango area is also seen higher at 2.388 million hectares as compared to 2.281 million hectares in the previous year.
In Keshod, Gujarat, the heartland for Kesar variety of mango, the arrivals began from Tuesday. The arrivals were lower at about 5,600-6,000 boxes (having 10 kg each) as against about 8,000-9,000 boxes around same period last year. Prices are higher by about 10-15 per cent to ₹900 per box for best quality variety. The prices hovered around ₹700-800 per box last year same period.