Alphonso, the king of mangoes, has fallen victim to climate change. The state government’s preliminary estimate is that nearly 80% of the mango crop has been destroyed, said agriculture minister Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil.
“The trees flowered far in excess of everyone’s expectations. The devastation has taken us by surprise. I am told it is because of climate change,” said Vikhe-Patil who has called a meeting on Wednesday to assess the damage. Sanjay Pansare , director, Fruits Market of the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) market at Vashi, said they have been receiving a meagre 7,000 boxes everyday as against 60-70 ,000 boxes during the same period last year.
A dozen mangoes in the wholesale market is selling for Rs 500-1000. The retail price is around Rs 1200-1500 per dozen. The Alphonso mango season lasts till the end of April. Normally , the mango tree begins to flower around November-December. “This time the winter was prolonged, resulting in the unprecedented flowering of the mango tree,” said Ajit Gogate, agriculturist from Devgad in Ratnagiri district.
Happy with the flowering, farmers borrowed money to buy pesticides. However, they were in short supply in many areas which is why a significant quantum fell prey to pests, said Gogate. Since every tree in the Konkan had flowered, farmers agreed to a lower price for export , said Gogate who had signed up to export 500 tonnes.
But no one had expected that winter would immediately give way to a scorching summer. “For pollination and the mango fruit to mature, a temperature of 30-36 degree Celsius is ideal. But by Mahashivratri , the temperature had touched 41 degree Celsius,” said Ashok Hande, a farmer and trader from Devgad.
The flowers were burnt crisp . “The yield is barely 10%. All you can see around the Konkan are burnt flowers and few mangoes ,” said Dr Deepak Sawant. “We are now left with huge bank loans to be repaid, export commitments unfulfilled and since the deals were struck at a lower price it has been a huge loss,” said BJP MLC from the Konkan, Hande and Gogate.
The source article 'Nearly 80% of mango crop ruined by climate change' was published April 6, 2011 by The Times of India .