Storms destroy quarter of mango crop in north India

May 19th, 2008 - 2:20 pm ICT by admin  

By Rajeev Ranjan Roy
New Delhi, May 19 (IANS) Repeated storms in northern India since May 14 have destroyed almost 25 percent of the region’s mango crop and Uttar Pradesh is the worst affected, according to a government estimate. “The storms have substantially damaged the mango crop. The loss would not be less than 25 percent. The details are being sought from different states,” an agriculture ministry official told IANS.

The first set of squalls hit Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Rajasthan, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana May 14. There were more storms Friday, affecting Uttar Pradesh the most. North India faced storms again over the weekend.

While city dwellers revelled in the unexpected relief from midsummer heat, “it is going to affect the export of mangoes this year”, said the official requesting anonymity. “If the weather continues to be inclement, we expect more damage to the country’s most important fruit crop.”

The thunderstorms have caused havoc to the crop in Uttar Pradesh, which accounts for 34 percent of India’s mango production. In a normal year, the state produces around 5.83 tonnes of mango per hectare.

“Our damage estimation is not less than 25 percent. This can go up once the details are received from different districts. Friday’s squalls caused heavy damage,” said B.M.C. Reddy, director (mango) at the Lucknow-based Central Institute of Subtropical Horticulture.

He said that there had been seven to 10 percent damage to the crop Friday alone, following which damaged mangoes were being sold at throwaway prices.

“The mango growers did not even get 20 paise for a kilogram. A bumper crop of mango was expected in the state this time, but the storms and squalls have hit the crop hard,” Reddy added.

The state is famous for Dashehri, Langra, Chausa, Bombay Green and Himsagar varieties of mangoes.

Exporters are keeping their fingers crossed, fearing a decline in export if there are more storms.

India is estimated to account for about 60 percent (9.5 million tonnes) of the world’s mango production of 15.7 million tonnes.

Mango, called the king of fruits in India, accounts for 40 percent of the national fruit production of 22.168 million tonnes a year. It occupies 42 percent of the country’s 24.87 million hectares under fruit cultivation.

“A bumper mango crop was expected this time. The storms have substantially damaged the crop. May is a crucial month when harvesting of some varieties of mango starts in various states,” said S.N. Pandey, additional director general, Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR).

R.K. Boyal, general manager, Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), said: “The thunderstorms reported from northern states in the past few days have substantially damaged the mango crop and may affect exports as well. The real picture will emerge only after the states do a damage assessment.”

According to APEDA, India exported 79,060.88 million tonnes of fresh mangoes and 156,835.52 million tonnes of mango pulp in 2006-07. Major markets for Indian mangoes are Japan, Europe and the Middle East.

The major varieties of mangoes exported include Dashehri, Alphonso, Kesar, Banganpalli, Langra, Chausa, Mallika, Swarnrekha and Totapuri.

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