BENGALURU: It’s quite a weighty issue for mango growers this year. The absence of pre-monsoon showers has shrunk the size of mangoes in parts of Karnataka.
In some places, mangoes are even falling off trees even before they turn ripe. The reduction in quantity and quality has left mango growers very disappointed.
Karnataka is among the top mango-growing states in the country. Mango is cultivated in 1.7 lakh hectares in 16 districts, including Kolar, Chikkaballapur, Dharwad and Ramanagaram.
According to Parashivamurthy, additional director (flowers and fruits), Horticulture Department, last year, the state registered a total yield of six lakh tonnes of mangoes.
This year, officials are expecting a yield of eight lakh tonnes with a slight variation.
“This year the size of mangoes will be reduced by 50-100 gm per fruit. This is the season for fruit maturation. Only if there are one or two showers will the size of the fruit increase. As there is no sign of rain and with the excess heat, the size of the fruit will be low. However, the taste will not vary much,” said Parashivamurthy.
Dr S V Hittalmani, former additional director and adviser in the department, said, “During this time, the crop needs rain and water. Or else, not just the size, but the quality of mangoes will also reduce and farmers will not get a good price.”
In some areas, due to lack of water and moisture in the soil, raw mangoes are falling off trees. Once they fall, the fruit gets spoiled, he added.
“In places like Chintamani, Kolar and Chikkaballapur, at least 10 per cent of raw mango crop has gone waste. Farmers are at the receiving end as all their efforts over the past one year will be lost. If it does not rain in the next 10 days, the situation will turn worse,” he said.
Prof Kulapati Hipparagi, Professor and Head, Department of Fruit Science, University of Horticultural Sciences, Bagalkot, said mango requires water from flowering to fruit stage. “Initially it will not be affected, but when the fruit starts growing, the stalk will not have the capacity to hold and will fall off. There will be no difference in the sugar content. But size matters to a lot for growers and buyers,” he said.
Madhu Kumar, who owns a mango farm at Kavanapura village, says he is worried that the fruit will be less juicy. “At least 40 per cent of the Sindhura and Badami mangoes has wilted and fallen. Last year, I got six tonnes of yield, but this year it will just be half of that,” he said. Jagadish, a fruit vendor at KR Market, agrees. “It’s a dry season for mangoes as people aren’t picking smaller fruit. The rate will therefore come down,” he said.
‘Unfit for Export’: With the decrease in size and quality, mangoes grown in Karnataka may not be ideal for export. “The quality of mangoes is paramount and smaller ones are not qualified to be sent outside the country. This is very disappointing for growers,” Hittalmani said.
About 9k Tonnes Exported
There is no accurate data on the quantity of mangoes exported from Karnataka. Some fruits are taken to neighbouring states and then exported. According to a rough estimate, 9,000 tonnes of mangoes were exported last year, said an official in the Horticulture Department.