Farmers stare at crisis as ‘king of fruits’ does not rule for second consecutive year 

Mango yield is 50% lower than last year with farmers blaming untimely and intermittent rain for the loss.

Mango yield is 50% lower than last year with farmers blaming untimely and intermittent rain for the loss. | Photo Credit: BHAGYA PRAKASH K.

If consumers felt that the mango season this year was over by the time it started, farmers say that this is true. Although it was determined by the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) of the Horticulture Department that 2022 would be an off year for mangoes, the ground reality was worse.

The mango yield fell significantly this year with most farmers from the major mango growing areas of Kolar and Ramanagaram districts reporting that their yield was only 20% of what they usually have.  As is the case with many horticulture crops in the last two years, incessant rains greatly affected the mango crops too. First, during the flowering season, instead of cold conditions, rainy conditions prevailed which was not conducive for the process and thus, there were not many hermaphrodite flowers. After the fruit came to the markets (later than usual), frequent complaints were heard by consumers that the prices of all varieties were mostly above ₹100 per kg this year. However, by the second week of July, it seemed like the season was already over. 

“We were a little hopeful after the flowering even though they were affected with blossom blight. But then came rainfall and hailstorms which led to only 25% of these flowers becoming fruits. If one hectare produced ten tonnes of fruits before, this year we only got 2.5 tonnes. Even though the prices went up due to lack of supply, it was in no way enough for us to even break even as we have to invest at least ₹40- 50,000 per hectare,” explained Chinnappa Reddy, president, Kolar Mango Growers’ Association. 

Not much help

Mr. Reddy added that the mango mela which was organised by the Horticulture Department in association with Karnataka State Mango Development and Marketing Corporation Limited (KSMDMCL) was not of much help to the farmers. “Mangoes have been a means of our livelihood for decades, but this time the situation got worse than ever. It is true that natural factors only led to the crop damage, but why does no one from the department or Indian Institute of Horticulture Research (IIHR) tell us what precautions to take,” he questioned.  

Wild elephants

Another giant problem faced by the mango farmers around Mysuru was that of wild elephants. Entering into their fields, the elephants knocked down trees that were 30–35 years old. “The government paid ₹1,800 per tree as compensation. But, how is that enough in any manner,” they ask. 

“Between all of these problems, our harvest was only 20%, out of which many fruits were infested with anthracnose (black spots). Even at APMCs we did not get honest rates. The farmers here used to grow enough fruits to distribute it to everyone around. This year anyone was lucky to get a 25 kg bag”, said Dharanish Kumar, president, Kanakapura and Channapatna Mango Growers’ Association. 

An official in the KSMDMCL said that even though exact numbers have still not been calculated, only 7–8 lakh metric tonnes of mangoes hit the markets this year as opposed to the usual 14–16 lakh metric tonnes. They added that sales were down by 50% this year and even the online portal Karsiri had to be closed early due to the unavailability of fruits. Some customers reported that their money was refunded to them by the board as quality fruits were not available after they placed their orders on the online portal.  

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Printable version | Aug 12, 2022 11:45:53 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/farmers-stare-at-crisis-as-king-of-fruits-does-not-rule-for-second-consecutive-year/article65751009.ece