Lucknow: Nature's wrath has rendered a big blow to mango output in Uttar Pradesh this year, not only hitting the price of the 'king of fruits' but also its quality and the quantum of exports.
Mango production, which was estimated to be around 50 lakh tonnes this year, is now expected to reach only 25-30 lakh tonnes in the state because of continued thunderstorms, dust storms and untimely showers this season.
"The flowering of the fruit was very good this year, almost 99%, and we had expected that the production would be around 50 lakh tonnes," Insram Ali, President of All India Mango Growers Association Insram, told PTI.
Uttar Pradesh – with 14 mango belts – is among the major producers of the 'king of fruits'.
The mango belts in Saharanpur, Bulandshahr, Barabanki, Hardoi, Hasanganj in Unnao, Pratapgarh, Amroha besides Malihabad produce the best of the succulent varieties of Dussheri, Chausa and Langra.
Dussheri and Chausa varieties are exported from the state.
Ali said the temperature required for the fruit was not steady. It kept fluctuating, resulting in the crop getting infested by pests, he said.
The temperature for the fruit to settle has to increase gradually but this time round it kept cooling down very often which created problems and the quality of fruit suffered, he added.
Another major problem that the mango growers faced was that of pests, for which the farmers had to go for regular sprays.
As per norms, the growers are advised to use minimum amount of pesticides to ensure that the fruit remains healthy but it becomes necessary to check the pests, he said, adding that this time round the problem was aggravated as duplicate pesticides are being commonly sold in the market.
Unlike the previous years when two to three sprays were sufficient, this time seven to eight sprays had to be used to control the spread of pests, he said.
The matter of duplicate pesticides is also being taken up with the authorities, Ali said.
"All this led to an increase in the cost of the produce and practically the government's aim of doubling the income of farmers by 2020 was blown away," he said.
This will definitely have a toll on the prices in the markets and the rates right at the starting of the season could be as high as Rs 50 to Rs 60 a kg, he said. Exports are also likely to be hit because the produce this time round will not be as good as in the past, Ali said. According to the data of Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority, India's total exports stood at 52,761 tonnes (worth Rs 443.66 crore) in FY17 compared with 36,779 tonnes (worth Rs 320.64 crore) a year earlier.
As it is, a lot remains to be done to fully exploit the potential of mango exports which could help the growers in raising their income and popularising the varieties grown in the state, Ali said.
The mango belt farmers have also been facing problems of insufficient power and water supply and have not got any special advantage, Ali said, adding that these issues are being constantly taken up with the Central and state governments.