KOLAR: Fearing the worst amid the COVID-19 lockdown, mango farmers here are hoping that the state government will purchase the prized Totapuri -- which makes up over 75 per cent of their yield -- directly from them and transport it to other states where there is a huge demand from pulp industries.
About 1.5 lakh families who depend on the sale of mangoes for their survival are likely to face losses this season as interstate transportation has come to a standstill.
The government's decision to sell other mango varieties such as Badami, Malliga, Neelam, Malgova and Kalapad in the Nandini Parlour and in apartment complexes has come as a relief for them.
Srinivasapura, which is considered the mango city in state, grows the fruit over an area of 30,000 hectares, while 15,000 hectares in other parts of the district are also devoted to the mango.
According to Kolar District Mango Grovers Association President Neelaturu Chinnappa Reddy, farmers grow 3 lakh tonnes of mango in the district every year, of which 2.5 lakh tonnes are Totapuri. But this season due to the cold weather, the growth was already affected and on top of that came the lockdown.
Every year, during the second week of May, the farmers drop their Totapuri in the APMC markets. Within days, merchants across Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh and Kerala purchase the fruit and sell them to pulp industries. Some pulp industry representatives are also directly involved in purchasing. But this season, few buyers are likely to turn up.
Chinnappa Reddy said they have appealed to the government to purchase the fruit directly from their land by setting up a purchasing unit at gram panchayat level and transport it to other states, adding that opening the APMC markets will increase the spread of COVID-19.
Kolar Deputy Commissioner Satyabhama said the district administration is thinking of setting up stalls at the panchayat and taluk level and in the city municipal limits to help farmers sell their table fruit after following all safety measures. However, the decision will be taken only after taking all issues into consideration.
Already a meeting has been arranged with mango farmers last week and another will be arranged with the elected representatives, following which the issue will be taken up with the government, Satyabhama said.