Time not yet ripe for Kesar mango

Man
Prolonged winter has taken a toll on the Kesar mango production in Talala and nearby areas of Saurashtra. The unfavourable weather not only delayed the ripening of the fruit and thus its supply to the market, but also the production, which is expected to be almost 50 to 60 per cent less than the last year.

Low production, according to market sources, is sure to push the prices up to almost the double of what it was in the last season.

Both the mango growers and the officials in the state horticulture department agree that the production this year would be very low.

Deputy director (Horticulture) in Junagadh G S Thorajia said the production in Talala, accounting for nearly 60 per cent of the total Kesar mangoes in the state, would be hardly 50 per cent of the last year. However, mango orchards in nearby Kodinar, Una and Amreli hold some hope for the mango lovers as the production there is expected to be normal, said Thorajia.

Mango farmer and secretary of the Talala-Gir Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee Harshukh Jarsania said that 24 lakh boxes (10 kg each) of Kesar mango had arrived in his market last year. However, he expects only 12 lakh boxes this year owing to the reports of low production.

According to Jarsania, Kesar mangoes generally hit the market by April 15 but its supply is expected only by mid-May this year due to delay in ripening of the fruit. He said though the production had been hit for the last four years due to unfavourable weather conditions, this season was the worst for mango producers.

Professor and Head of Horticulture Department at Junagadh Agriculture University R S Choratia said that prolonged winter, which continued till March 31, first affected the flowering in mango trees adversely and then setting of fruits. The subsequent large variation in day and night temperatures caused fruit dropping.

The vegetative growth on the plants owing to temperature variation again affected the growth of fruits that had somehow survived. "All this would finally affect the quantity as also the quality," said Choratia.

Winds of change

Jarsania said that owing to low production of mangoes over the last four years, many farmers were felling their trees and shifting to cultivation of other commercial crops like groundnut and cotton. He said the state government should extend the insurance cover for mango growers as well in case of failure of the crop to ensure farmers did not shift to other crops and adequate supply of mangoes continued.

But Thorajia differed saying that though farmers were cutting their old trees whose yield had gone down, they were also planting new ones over almost the same area.

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