Mango yield has been low so far and due to lockdown, the king of fruits which may head towards Fruit market in Hyderabad where a sudden spike in supply and low demand could lead to more problems.

It’s that time of the year when mangoes are high in demand. Mangoes from across Telangana are going to head to the markets, from where they get distributed to vendors, local markets and also to other States. However, lockdown due to Covid-19 outbreak this year has posed a serious marketing challenge for mango growers across Palamuru region and Telangana at large.

And to make matters worse, hailstorms and strong winds have caused largescale damage to mango gardens in parts of Wanaparthy district. Rains just before Sankranthi festival during inflorescence, led to a condition called ‘blosson blight’ in mango crop across Pangal, Kodair and Kollapur mandals. Due to these factors, yield has been low and due to lockdown, all the mangoes which may head towards Fruit market in Hyderabad where a sudden spike in supply and low demand could lead to more problems for mango growers as prices plummet.

Naresh, a lessee of mango garden at Narsaipally village of Kodair mandal in Nagarkurnool district, has taken a biennial lease of around 540 trees having different varieties of mangoes. He has paid in part, out of the total agreed amount of Rs 9,50,000 for the lease. Though he has been able to reap high returns last year, this year he is very uncertain due to lockdown.

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“A good yield would mean around 20 tonne harvest for 340 trees of my farm, but this year it looks like I can get only 5 or 6 tonnes because of poor flowering due to ‘buda thegulu.’Even the rate per tonne mangoes is ranging between Rs 30,000 and 50,000,” he told #KhabarLive.

Traders from other states coming to Hyderabad market to make purchases have stopped coming due to lockdown. Even corporate players have not been showing much interest due to the lockdown.

Permissions are given by district administration to mango growers to sell their produce in Hyderabad, but there is a deadline of 11.30 am, before which farmers are supposed to load, travel, unload, sell and leave the market, which has become a bottleneck for farmers to sell mangoes in markets despite having permissions.

“If we go to market now, traders have formed a ring and the price they quote would be final. It is like take it or leave it. In addition to that, we are expected to pay 11 per cent commission for the produce we sell, give away quintal mangoes per tonne to them and also pay rent under Rs 3000 for the space they allot us in the market there,”Naresh added.

Though this is not something new in Hyderabad (Chaitanyapuri) market, the timing of the exploitation is condemnable.

Some experts have been suggesting staggered harvesting by not harvesting the entire crop at once, but plucking and selling only the ripened fruits in different phases. Professor Shankara Swamy. Assistant Professor, Fruit Science, SKLB Horticulture University, suggests that the farmers need to go local in these times and try to form a network of fruit vendors in rural areas and bring them together through whatsapp groups and take orders online and keep harvesting and supplying as per the orders received online.

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He also suggests using ripening methods like dipping fruits in etharol solution, drying them and packing them or by pacing enripe sachets in packed boxes which have been accepted as per the food regulation standards, instead of using Calcium Carbine, which contains cancer-causing agents.

However, the reality on the ground is different. Mango growers have become restless because of the sudden hailstorms and strong winds, which could cause great damage to the yield. Hence, staggered harvesting is something they have not preferred, as weather conditions are uncertain.

Even selling locally doesn’t seem like a profitable option, as farmers say that by doing that, at the maximum they may be able to sell a tonne load.

In absence of a marketing system to support the farmers this year, middlemen may be able to make merry, while farmers may not be able to make much and end consumers whose pockets are already empty, may have to shed more to pay for mangoes (if at all they choose to buy).

Kollapur mangoes have been famous across the country and the world because of the high degree of sweetness in them. However, due to absence of cold storage, processing units or any major market in the assembly constituency for all these decades, the mango growers of this area have not been able to effectively brand and market themselves.

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“I have spoken to market officials in Chaitanyapuri, but they say that they may be getting 100 tonne mangoes every day, which is too much to supply in these times when demand has been low. Big corporate players like Reliance and More have also not been showing much interest,”B Harsha Vardhan Reddy, Kollpaur MLA informed #KhabarLive.

“We have submitted proposals for mango markets and fruit processing units which would be setup as Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in Kollapur. The State government was also showing inclination towards our proposals, but this lockdown has put all our plans on hold,”he said.

Some progressive farmers from the region are suggesting that the Centre setup procurement centres in different locations and buy mangoes from farmers and deliver them along with other essential commodities to doorsteps of the people during lockdown by using funds from NDRF, as mangoes are rich in anti-oxidants and consuming seasonal fruits is always suggested by heath experts.

People from the Mudiraju community have mastered the art of marketing mangoes for generations, which they are still continuing across Telangana by leasing mango gardens of landlords. Even in these tough times, though they know that they may be at a great loss, they are leaving no stone unturned to make the most out of the yield they have in hand. #KhabarLive

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