Already reeling under a bad crop year, farmers in the Konkan region of Maharasthra that produces some of the best Alphonso mangoes now have Mother Nature to contend with as well.
Through Friday night and much of Saturday, parts of Sindhudurg, especially in Kudal, Jamsande, Malwan, Vijaydurg, Devgad and other areas witnessed intermittent rains leading to widespread panic among farmers. Locals say any more rain could harm the mango flowers and also attract thrips, insects, which spoil the fruit, turning the mango skin black and thus making it un-salable.
Till 6 pm on Saturday, the rainfall measured 10.55 mm in areas already reeling from projections of a lower than normal yield this year Speaking to SUNDAY MiD DAY, Omkar Sapre, the chief marketing officer of The Devgad Taluka Mango Growers Co-operative Society, said the weather change is a concern for most mango growers in the area. “The risk is huge. Today it rained heavily in certain parts, whereas in some parts it wasn’t that heavy. However, if the weather changes and it rains once again, farmers will suffer heavy loses, as insects and pests will infest the crop,” he said. Many farmers have already sprayed pesticide on the crops, he added.
“Production has been affected since the last five to six years. In 2008 for instance, it rained during the peak period and many mangoes had turned black causing huge losses in the domestic and export markets. If it rains again this year, we may face a similar situation,” added Sapre.
Another mango farmer from Giriye village, who has been in this business for more than two decades, said the second crop of mangoes that usually reach Mumbai around May, will be the worst affected. “Rains spell disaster for mangoes especially during this period, as the flowers go down with the water. Last year we had managed 40 per cent growth, this year things are already bad. If it starts raining we will suffer badly,” said Munaf Thakur, owner of one of the mango orchards.
Arif Bagdadi, another mango grower and a local politician felt while earlier one tree would fetch three boxes of mangoes, each comprising of five to six dozens, this year a fruit bearing tree would fill up just a single box at best.