A day after heavy gales, hailstorms and downpour were reported in Chittoor and Annamayya districts, officials put the preliminary estimation of loss incurred by farmers growing mango and other horticulture crops in the districts at 8 crore.
The three-hour-rain on Tuesday left standing mango crops on hundreds of acres in the two districts damaged.
In Chittoor district, mango plantations in Bangarupalem, Tavanampalle, Chittoor rural, and GD Nellore, SR Puram, and Karveti Nagaram mandals took the hit, while the damage in Annamayya district was reported from Veeraballe and Pullampeta mandals.
Confederation of Indian Farmers Association secretary Kothur Babu, who hails from Chittoor mandal, said that the sudden climatic onslaught had damaged the standing mango crop in several mandals.
“This year, the mango crop is grown in about one lakh acres, of which the Tuesday’s devastation alone would contribute to more than 10% loss. Mangoes weighing 750 grams to one kg and more had dropped to the ground in many areas,” he said.
The Rajampeta division that produces some of the most sought-after table varieties of mangoes received drubbing during the last two years post the pandemic, and the seasonal imbalance this year.
With the pulp industries yet to commence their operations in the region, the mango farmers are left with no option but to transport the windfall to the Koyambedu market in Chennai. “Though we expected a price tag of ₹30-40 a kg for the Bengaluru variety, the gush of the stocks to the markets are fetching just ₹5 a kg now. When the farmers tried to pour out their woes to the horticulture department officials, they did not receive any response. Instead of visiting the fields, the officials are suggesting to mango growers that they shift their damaged stocks to the markets and dispose of them at whatever price they could fetch,” Mr. Kothur Babu said.
N.P. Ramakrishna, former chairman of the Chittoor Cooperative Sugar Factory and a traditional mango grower, said that the Bangarupalem mandal, considered the most-important region in the mango growing belt in Chittoor district, bore the brunt of nature’s fury on Tuesday.
“Farmers had reported that the damage in the orchards was very serious. Even if they want to pick the fallen fruit from the gardens, they are not in a position to procure the labor component,” he said.
Plea to set up Mango Board
Mr. Ramakrishna said that as there was no Mango Board in the region, a request was placed with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to immediately look into the plight of the mango farmers in Rayalaseema districts. “Though the region holds a sea of potential for horticulture crops, there is no scientific support from the State government,” he said.