BENGALURU: The king of fruits will be dear and costly this year. The first box of one kilo of Ratnagiri Alphansos was recently auctioned for Rs 3,000. The Karnataka State Mango Development and Marketing Corporation Limited has found there is already a 50 per cent drop in the yield.
CG Nagaraju, Managing Director of the Corporation told The New Sunday Express that this time the harvest and flowering pattern has been different. “Firstly this is the off-season. As it is known, mango is a biannual crop. But this year the flowering was delayed. When the flowering started, the heavy down pour in November only made most of it wither away. Only 50 per cent has flowered. Normally the winter spell continues till Shivarathri. But this time winter has been a miss, the maximum and minimum temperatures have been high so the pea-sized mangoes have already started to fall in some places because of the high temperatures, leading to a further reduction in the crop,” he said.
Mangoes need a minimum temperature of 13- 15 degrees Celsius at night for a long period for flowering and fruit, followed by temperatures over 30 degrees Celsius for the harvest, but neither situation has occurred on time, he said. Scientists say temperatures during December and January were not favourable this season. Varieties which have shown a 50 per cent drop include Alphanso, Badami, Sidhura, Kesar, Malgova, Banishan (Banganpalli), Totapuri and Mallika. This year Imam Pasanda has not flowered in Karnataka. Sakkare gutti is the only variety that has flowered well this season.
Mango is grown in 11 districts of Karnataka: Kolar, Chickaballapur, Ramanagara, Bengaluru Rural, Bengaluru Urban, Tumakuru, Dharwad, Belagavi, Haveri, Koppal and Gadag. North Karnataka has the major Alphonso and Badami-producing region, where only 40 per cent flowering has been reported. “This is the first time that there is such a difference when compared to usual cycles. Even though the area under mango cultivation has increased, the crop has reduced. Last year the area under mango cultivation was 1.72 lakh hectares and now it is 1.80 lakh hectares. So now to help farmers, the Corporation is doing as much as possible. We are helping them with water tankers, educating them with methods of how to keep the soil cool, moistened with wet sheets and sprinklers so that there is limited crop loss,” he said.
Corporation officials have also found that many industries, traders and home makers have had direct tie ups with farmers, to get early and best of fruits directly for making pickles, pulp industry and for export. This only means that what will be available in the domestic market this season will be of lesser quality, but costly. To help farmers ensure that they do not make losses and the trade industry is not affected, especially in competition from Maharashtra and Andhara Pradesh, the Corporation will organise a buyers and sellers meet in the third week of March. The officials point out that this will help farmers get the best deal for what ever is left and that the best are chosen for exports.