With about 5,000 acres under Alphonso mango cultivation, Salem may not be affected by the ban on Alphonso imports by European Union from India from May 1.

“Countries in the EU have never been favourite destinations for Salem mangoes,” says A. Jayapal, president of the Mango Growers and Traders Association. The district also exports about 60 tonnes of the Alphonso variety every year.

“One has to follow a lot of formalities from the time a mango sapling is planted. The demand is mostly for organic and pesticide-free mangoes from EU countries. And, the consignment is returned even if one fruit is damaged,” he says.

Apart from Alphonso, the main varieties here are Salem Benglura, Emampasand, Nadusalai, Senthura, Banganapalli and Benglura. Annually 60 tonnes to 70 tonnes of mangoes are exported from Salem and it is mostly the Alphonso variety. At times, exports go up to 100 tonnes.

“Export to Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan and the West Asian countries is preferred, as the norms are not so stringent as in European Union’’, says Jayapal, who has been in the business for over 55 years.

It will cost about Rs. one lakh for packing and transporting mangoes worth Rs. 50,000 to the European Union. “If it is returned, traders and exporters suffer heavy loss”, he said and added that this was the main reason to stay away from the EU market.

“Exporters from Chennai give the specifications on the size of mangoes and the traders and growers here pack and send them to the exporters accordingly,” says J. Srinivasan, a third-generation mango trader in Salem.

This year the yield has come down drastically due to deficient rainfall resulting in lesser availability of the fruits which has affected exports too, traders say.

R. Arivanantham writes from Krishnagiri

The ban will not affect farmers in Krishnagiri and Dharmapuri districts also as most of the mango produced in the two districts are used for producing pulp.

H.M. Sathyamoorthy, Project Head, KRISHMAA Cluster Development Society (KCDS) told The Hindu that the ban would not affect the mango growers as they supply to over 40 pulp industries operationing here.

But, the failure of summer showers in March and April will affect the mango yield in over 46,200 hectares in both the districts, says K. Kalaiselvi, Joint Director, Horticulture, Krishnagiri and in-charge for Horticulture department in Dharmapuri.

Varieties such as Alphonso, Senthura, Peethar, Himampasandh, Neelam, and Malgoa varieties are cultivated by the farmers in the districts. Over 85 per cent of the mango-producing belts in these two districts are rain-fed areas.

Deficit rainfall will affect mango yield during this season, she said.

The average yield per hectare is eight tonnes here. Only those farmers who have borewells or installed drip irrigation facility in their orchards have managed to get some yield, “The trees have almost withered and if there is no rain in the coming weeks, the situation will only get worse,” she says.

Quality and yield of the mangoes will be hit by the failure of rainfall, says M.C. Santhakumar, president, Innovative Mango Producers’ Association. Smaller cold storage facilities are the need of the hour. Due to lack of cold storage, 25 per cent to 30 per cent of production goes waste, he says.

More In: Tamil Nadu | National