Weather vagaries hit harvest hard in State
What should have been a bumper crop for mango this year has turned out to be an ‘off’ season in the State, a phenomenon that has not been witnessed in the last 30 years. That is, an ‘on’ year flopped.
While Horticulture Department officials, observing the flowering pattern, initially estimated the crop output to be about 8 lakh tonnes, bad weather with prevailing heat wave, aridity and drought conditions brought down the output to less that 3 lakh tonnes (output normally recorded in an ‘off’ season).
Moreover, the crop output has been affected with heavy rain accompanied by hailstones over the last fortnight.
“As 90 per cent of mango orchards in Karnataka is rain-fed, the crop was affected to a large extent,” Additional Director of Horticulture S.V. Hittalmani told presspersons on the sidelines of Mango and Jackfruit Mela, which was inaugurated at Lal Bagh Botanical Gardens here on Friday.
“The fruit did not set the way we expected due to the weather conditions. This drastic drop in production has happened for the first time in the last 30 years,” he said.
The crop in at least 17 villages in Kolar, one of the largest producing districts in the State, had been hit due to the recent rainfall, he added.
Currently, mango is cultivated on about 1.6 lakh hectares across the State. Being an alternative year crop, production varies between an ‘on’ season and an ‘off’ season, swinging from almost 8 lakh tonnes to around 3 lakh tonnes.
Meanwhile, some farmers participating in the mela expressed their displeasure over the department’s initiative to expand the area under mango cultivation without creating adequate market for the produce.
According to the department’s estimate, in the last couple of years, about 10,000 hectares have been coming under mango cultivation each year.
“In fact, if mango production was normal this year, we would have been in trouble due to price crash caused by flooding of the fruit in the market,” said a farmer, who wished to remain anonymous. According to him, the prevailing price for various varieties this year was good, but not adequate.
“The price this year covers our cost of production and also gives us profits. But not all farmers have benefited as output came down drastically.”