Agri Business

Maharashtra's mango yield takes 70 per cent hit

Alka Kshirsagar Pune | Updated on May 18, 2012

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It is peak mango season in Maharashtra, and though its best known varieties — primarily Alphonso and Kesar — are beginning to make a more regular appearance in local markets, the grim news is that this year's fruit production is estimated to be less than 30 per cent of the State's annual average yield.

While the situation is largely attributed to a particularly wet November and December followed by below normal temperatures in the subsequent months in the mango belt, farmers from the Konkan region also attribute the drop in production to a pest they have been unsuccessful in controlling.

“The average annual mango production is pegged at around 7 lakh tonnes,” Mr Prakash Ashtekar, Deputy General Manager, Maharashtra State Agricultural Marketing Board (MSAMB), says, adding that this year's output was expected to be 25-30 per cent of this.

According to Dr Subhash Chavan, Associate Director of research at the Regional Fruit Research Station in Vengurla, the percentage of flowers that can mature into fruit this year is down to 4-5 per cent from the normal 11-12 per cent. “The mango output has been hit due to various reasons since 2008,” he says, pointing out that this year, adverse weather conditions in the flowering and fruiting period has led to the sharp drop in yield.

Pest attack

Mr Dilip Damre, a farmer from the Sindhudurg region, however, attributes the fall partly to a pest attack. “For the last three years we have seen large-scale attack from Thrips, a pest that drinks up the nutritional sap, leading to destruction of fruit as well as the terminal bud, and we have not been able to control this,” he says. He places this year's yield from the region at 20-25 per cent of the average.

With around 1.8 lakh hectares under mango cultivation, Alphonso (Hapoos) is grown primarily in the four districts that comprise the Konkan belt, and accounts for nearly 25 per cent of the total production. The remaining 75 per cent is Kesar, a fruit grown in the Marathwada region.

The lower production has naturally impacted prices and the current price ranges from Rs 300-600 per dozen in the Pune market.

Estimated Exports

Till date around 28 tonnes of mangoes — both Hapoos and Kesar in equal measure — have been exported to the US, Mr Ashtekar said. “Last year, we exported 84 tonnes of the fruit. This year, shipments will continue till June 30, and we expect exports to touch 70 tonnes,” he added.

The purchase price stood at around Rs 220 per kg early in the season, and is now around Rs 130 per kg for Hapoos. Kesar is priced slightly lower.

Published on May 18, 2012

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