Erratic climatic conditions have affected the Alphonso mango crop this season. Unseasonal rainfall, coupled with extreme heat during the day, has damaged the crop, and the output is expected to be lower by 25-40%, observed industry players.
As a result, arrival of mangoes at the Navi Mumbai Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC), which is usually around 40,000 boxes around this time every year, is lower by almost 50% this year, officials of the market committee said.
This means consumers may have to shell out more for their favourite seasonal fruit. Sanjay Pansare, director of the APMC fruit market, said, “Currently, the rate of each box (around four-five dozen ) ranges from Rs 2,000 to Rs 5,000, depending on the variety of mangoes and from which district these come. Even if it is the beginning of the mango season, the demand for the fruit has shot up. Almost all the boxes are sold out by the end of each day.”
Alphonso mangoes on Devgad Alphonso — the online sales portal of the Devgad Taluka Mango Growers Co-operative Society Limited — are available at premium prices. One dozen of A1+ grade (300 gm each) Alphonso mangoes are being sold for 2,892, the A1 (275 gm each) mangoes are priced at Rs 2,658 per dozen while the cheapest variety (175 gm each) is being sold for Rs 1,114 per dozen on the portal. The Devgad Alphonso variety is considered to be of the best quality.
Vivek Bhide, chairperson of Konkan Alphonso Mango Producers and Sellers Cooperative Association, and a practising medical professional who also owns a mango orchard with 1,500 trees in Ratnagiri, maintained that the production was down by 40-60%. Every year, usually about 125,000 boxes of Alphonso mangoes arrive at the Navi Mumbai market during the Gudi Pawda festival. But this time, barely 21,800 boxes reached in the market and arrivals continue to remain poor, he said. Farmers may have sold a portion of their produce in private markets, probably similar to what they sell in APMCs, he explained.
Bhide said the first and second flowerings have been totally damaged due to unseasonal rainfall and the heat in March. It has been raining for the last four days in the region. So growers will have to spray on the fruits to prevent further damage.
Mango flowering sometimes start as early as November or usually during December in the Konkan region of Maharashtra. The Alphonso is grown on some 1.15 lakh hectares across Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg, Raigad and Thane districts in Maharashtra. Recognised for its unique taste, aroma and superior quality, the Alphonso mango is very popular.
The peak arrivals will start from the end of April and continue for a month, Bhide said. After the fruit starts arriving from all markets, supplies will improve and prices will also drop to around Rs 800 to 1,200 per dozen for the good quality varieties, he said. Amar Desai of the Mango Desai Products pointed out that they now send a few workers to harvest the fruit for a couple of days in a week. In a normal season, workers are sent to the orchards on a daily basis.
Govind Hande, advisor, exports cell, Maharashtra horticultural department, said, in general, the annual production is more than 1,00,000 tonne (approximately 400 million mangoes) of which 60,000 tonne are exported to Dubai, the US, Japan and some European countries. Meanwhile, farmer cooperatives like the Devgad Growers Association and several others have taken the online route to reach out to consumers.