Mango growers seek govt support as bumper crop fails to generate profits
The lack of government initiatives, including testing centers and crop preservation facilities is exacerbating the problem faced by the growers.
KOLKATA: Struggling to recover the cost of production on the back of a bumper crop this season, mango farmers of Malda in West Bengal have sought government intervention, a merchant's body said on Tuesday.
It has called upon the government to intervene and provide incentives to encourage more export of the fruit from Malda to other states and overseas.
The body has also sought common testing and export facilitation centers in Malda, as well as a mango processing facility to support growers and the regional economy.
Malda and Murshidabad districts in Bengal are famous for the luscious summer fruit.
Malda Merchants Association president Ujjal Saha said that the government had in the past recognised the two districts as designated export zones for mangoes. But it remained only in pen and paper.
Over the past two to three years an additional 200 hectares at least have been brought under mango cultivation in the region, he said.
"Farmers are currently earning only Rs 10 per kg at the farm level, while the cost of production is around Rs 15 per kg. This is due to high production level and lack of commensurate demand, despite exports to neighbouring states," Saha told PTI.
The production of mangoes in Malda this season is estimated to be around 400,000 tonnes, up from 300,000 tonnes in the previous one. Currently about 31,000 hectares are under mango cultivation.
"The overseas export demand is not good as of now and there is some from north India. We need to export about 100 truckloads to fetch a remunerative price, but the daily supply just makes for about 40. The mango farmers of the district have not benefited due to the high yield of the fruit this year," he said.
The lack of government initiatives, including testing centers and crop preservation facilities is exacerbating the problem, Saha claimed.
The association urged the union and state governments to take action to support the local mango industry and ensure that farmers receive fair prices for their produce.
A state horticulture department official acknowledged that the realisation was far less this year than the previous year.
However, the department's role is very limited and it does not have the scope to address the concerns raised by the association.
On the issue of setting up more testing centers, the official said that it has been found that the existing ones find it difficult to survive due to the seasonal nature of the business.
The West Bengal government's Mango Utsav in Delhi helped to sell 35 tonnes (35000 kg) of mangoes during the fortnight-long festival that concluded on June 19.
A total of seven mango-producing districts had participated in it.
However, the mango festival in Kolkata, slated to begin this week, was cancelled due to the announcement of panchayat elections in the state.
State horticulture department director Jayanta Aikat said state government provided subsidy of Rs 30 per kg for the Delhi Mango Festival to increase the sale of the fruit.
The Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), the horticulture nodal agency for exports, did not respond to queries.
APEDA had earlier announced that it was trying to facilitate exports of 75 varieties of mangoes from Bengal to commemorate 75 years of Independence and celebrate Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav.