After seven long bad years, the mango growers in the Chittoor and Annamayya districts have breathed a sigh of relief with this years bountiful crop.
Between 2015-22, mango cultivation in the Chittoor district was seen as a high-stakes gamble as excess rains, oppressive heat, and the COVID-19 effect hit the crop badly.
However, last year’s timely rain and the conducive weather in March this year have brought hope to the mango growers in the Chittoor and Annamayya districts.
Dominant mango belt
As much as 5,86,563 metric tonnes of mango is estimated to be produced on over 1,08,428 hectares in the Chittoor district. These districts form a dominant mango belt in South India with annual business worth several hundreds of crores of rupees.
Varieties like Totapuri, Neelam, Khadar, Benisha, Sindura, and Lal Bagh are grown in the region, and this harvest season, 31 pulp industries are ready to buy the stock from the growers.
The ‘Totapuri’ variety fruit and fruit pulp are in high demand in this Rayalaseema district, and the crop is harvested from the first week of June. The usual practice is that the majority of the farmers harvest the produce at the same time, irrespective of whether the fruit is ripe or not. This has resulted in low market demand and has yielded low profits for the farmers.
The Horticulture Department officials here thus urge the farmers to harvest only the ripe crop and that too in a staggered manner so that the yield is not too high at once. This, the officials say, would ensure the remunerative prices for the farmers.
Officials at the field level say that when all the farmers harvest the crop at the same time, the whole crop is put at risk from natural calamities like untimely rain or severe heat.
District Collector Sagili Shanmohan also assures necessary technical assistance to the farmers to gain maximum harvest. He also launches training and awareness programs on harvesting only the ripe produce in a staggered manner and never simultaneously.
On the other hand, the mango growers have sought the officials to bail their fraternity from an oppressive financial crunch by offering an affordable price and forming price determination and monitoring committees annually.
Meanwhile, the district administration has sent proposals to the government to provide insurance for mango crops to reduce the risk for the farmers.