The people of India have a deep connection with mangoes. Every person claims to have at least one favorite kind but the Alphonso mango is undoubtedly the king. Anyone who has eaten it will attest that its distinctive flavor is hard to forget. However, the last couple of years have spelled trouble for mango farmers in India.
The cultivation of Alphonso mangoes is very much like any other artisan product like wine, olive oil, or cheese. It requires the right mix of soil and weather conditions. This year, due to uncharacteristically colder and longer winters, which killed off the juvenile mangoes, harvests have been low.
Due to the change in weather, there has been an increase in pests as well. This means that farmers have had to use chemical fertilizers. Alphonso mangoes only yield once a year, which means a poor harvest could well ruin a farmer and this has been the second poor harvest in a row.
In spite of the poor harvests, these mangoes are being exported abroad. However, due to the poor harvests, the prices have risen dramatically. In India they cost twice as much as they were last year. According to Treehugger, in London they are about $17.80 for a dozen.
According to the Indian Express, the Kesar of mangoes, that is grown in Kerala have reduced yield as well. They report that that yield has been fifty to sixty percent less than last year. The fruit were expected to be in the market in the middle of April but it has been delayed by a month. The same report of poor harvests has come from the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, which is famous for the Baginapalli variety.
This state of late harvest and poor yield is not restricted to only one or two varieties in pockets of India. All over India farmers are reporting the same phenomenon. Unseasonal rain in April in the Sindh region which is famous for the Sindhri variety of mango, has caused havoc in the area. Five to six feet of stagnant rainwater remained standing in some mango orchards for three months, causing severe damage to trees. Apart from this, the crop has also suffered from frost.
The woe of mango farmers is the same all over the country. Some of them have abandoned mango farming and have taken up other occupations to make ends meet. All of them are of the consensus that weather wierding is responsible for their harvest problems as well as increasing the occurrence of pests. If action is not taken now, India and the world will soon lose the glorious heritage of the delectable mango.
Image Credit: Wie146, Wikimedia Commons