Delayed monsoon gives them bumper harvest

Delayed monsoon served as a blessing in disguise for reaping a bumper mango harvest in north coastal Andhra districts, according to Horticulture Department officials and mango crop experts. Mango plantations are spread over roughly 1.50 lakh acres in Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam districts.

Due to the impact of climatic changes, rains were occurring more due to formation of cyclonic depression and also gale and heavy winds. These are adverse conditions for mango flowering and fruit leading to steep drop in yield. Gale and winds were experienced a couple of time during the mango flowering and fruiting stage, but were limited to a few pockets in the region while Agency area witnessed bumper harvest as rainfall was higher when compared to plain areas.

Among the several varieties of mango banginapalli, collector, suvarnareka, neelam, romania, rasalu, cheruku rasalu and palukalu are produced in north Andhra. The palukalu variety is harvested in March and April and is in much demand in Delhi and Bengal. Vizianagaram is the local market from where it is sent to other States.

The banginapalli, suvarnareka, rasalu, cherukurasam and peddarasam varieties are harvested in May. The collector variety is mostly used in pickles, fruit drinks and in processing industry and will hit the market in mid-June and July. A British collector introduced the Thotapur variety of mango to the local farmers in the State and ever since it became popularly known as ‘Collector Kaya'.

Assistant Director (horticulture) G. Prabhakar told The Hindu that the mango crop had been by and large intact as there were no adverse climatic conditions like heavy winds and cyclones and the delayed monsoon has actually protected the mango crop. “Besides, the natural ripening of mangoes has actually turned the mangoes sweet. Initially at the advent of mango season there were complaints of traders adopting artificial methods like using of calcium carbide for ripening but as the dry spell continued for some time most of the traders waited for natural ripening, which was why most of the recent mangoes were sweet and tasty”, he said.

On an average, the mango production per acre was 4-5 tonnes. A rough estimate puts the total mango production in 1.50 lakh acres in the three districts at 450,000 tonnes.

Mango cultivation in Visakhapatnam is 40,000 acres in plain areas and 10,954 acres in the Agency areas. A feasibility study had been made by the ITDA to expand the mango crop area by another 23,758 acres in the coming years.

In Srikakulam district mango cultivation is in 65,000 acres in the Palakonda, Rajam, Regidi Amudalavalasa and Santakaviti mandals. In Vizianagarm district the mango cultivation is spread in 25,000 acres.

To help the farmers in the event of adverse climatic conditions causing damage to the crop, the State Government has brought the mango crop under the crop insurance scheme. The insurance scheme covers damages to the crop caused by high temperatures, unseasonal rainfall, pests and diseases and cyclonic winds and natural calamities etc. Premium amount for a tree less than15 years old and more than 15 years is Rs.52 and Rs. 46 respectively, with the beneficiary farmer and the Government contributing equally.

Mango accounts for 40 percent of the fruit exports from the country and Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh have the largest mango cultivation areas followed by Bihar, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

Mango is utilised in all stages of its development both in its immature and mature state. Raw fruits are used for making chutney, pickles and juices.

The ripe fruits besides being used for desert are also utilised for preparing several products like squashes, syrups, nectars, jams and jelly. The mango kernel also contains 8-10 percent good quality fat which can be used for soap and also as a substitute for cola in confectionery.

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