King of fruits will come at a princely price this year

Mar 26, 2012, 11:37 IST | Saurabh Katkurwar

Consumers are shelling out a whopping Rs 4,500 a box; traders blame prolonged winter for the price, inferior quality and low produce, resulting in a dip in supply


Though Mumbaikars enjoyed a prolonged winter that lasted until February this year, there is a likelihood that it might have spoilt their mango treat. According to traders from the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC), Vashi, while traders expected over 40,000 boxes of mangoes to hit the market around Gudi Padwa — as is the case  every year — only 12,000 boxes have reached the market so far this year. Traders predict that this lack of supply will leave the common man with a bitter taste.
Bitter fruit: According to traders and agricultural experts, mango prices will come down only after April. File pic
Vijay Dhoble, an expert on mango cultivation and a trader at APMC market, said, “In February, we had anticipated less production and supply of mango because of the drawn-out winter season this year. Because of that, flowering of fruit-bearing trees started, leading to the rotting of the mangoes. They eventually fell off the trees. Hence, the supply has taken a hit. So far, around 12,000 mango boxes have arrived at the market since Gudi Padwa.” 
Prices skyrocket
Apart from low supply, the quality of the fruit, especially the Alphonso has been inferior in comparison to last year. However, despite the inferior quality, the rates have doubled. While a box of mangoes was available for anywhere between Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,500 last March, this year consumers are shelling out anywhere between Rs 2,000 to Rs 4,500.  
“This price hike is mainly due to the low yield. Chances are that the price may go up to Rs 6,000-8,000 per box by the end of April, and that too, for fruit which is of a quality not at par with last year’s produce,” said Dhoble.
Suffering losses
Ismail Mukadam, a mango farmer from Ratnagiri district, said, “Due to the chill in the air, most mango trees flowered between January and February. We are anticipating optimum harvest between April-end to May.” Since the fruit arriving at the APMC market is of inferior quality, most of it is getting spoilt by the time it reaches the traders. This loss of fruit has further created a shortage, driving up prices. “Alphonso mango boxes can only be opened on a specific date printed on the boxes. When we open the boxes after purchasing them from APMC market, around 30% to 40% of the fruit is already rotten, forcing us to sell the leftover mangoes at a higher cost,” said a retailer. 
Grumpy consumers
Commenting on the inferior quality of fruit and hiked prices, Pramod Joshi, a resident of Belapur, said, “In comparison to last year, the price of Alphonso mangoes this year isexorbitant. Besides, even the taste lacks quality. What we have learnt from the traders is that good and cheap mangoes will be available only after April. But I’m ready to pay a higher price, as the mango season lasts for four months only.”

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