Mango festivals have turned out to be a big hit in Maharashtra. Using these as a tool to bring farmers and consumers together on a common platform, the Maharashtra State Agriculture Marketing Board (MSAMB) has organised over 25 mango festivals in the state this season.
Through these festivals, farmers have sold over 3 lakh dozens of Alphonso and Kesar mangoes directly to consumers this season, senior officials of the state agriculture marketing board said. A single ongoing festival in Pune that began on April 1, has seen over 60,000 consumers directly interacting with farmers resulting in a business of nearly Rs 14 crore so far.
Around 800-1,000 consumers visit these festivals on a daily basis. In Pune alone, mango festivals have been held in 25 areas. Across the state, farmers are expected to conduct business worth Rs 4 crore through these festivals, some of which are still in progress. Some 330 Alphonso growers from Kokan region and 37 Kesar growers from Marathwada region have registered with MSAMB this season, said Deepak Shinde, Assistant GM, MSAMB.
Mangesh Kadam, assistant general manager in charge of domestic sales, MSAMB, pointed out that the objective of these festivals is to eliminate the middle man and bring both farmers and consumers together, offering both better returns. These festivals were held in Pune, Nashik, Sangli, Solapur, Aurangabad, Baramati, Indapur, Shirur, Pimpri Chinchwad, Latur, Akluj, Panvel, Bhiwandi, Kolhapur and Vasai, among others. As the season for the Alphonso is nearing to a close, the mango fests are also in the last stages in some of the places, Kadam said.
The idea is to take such festivals to other states as well but we are first gauging their success in Maharashtra. Normally, the growers remain isolated from the consumer and depend on traders for their sale. Returns are also not very remunerative, he said, adding that these festivals have enabled farmers to get healthy rates for their produce. During the start of this season, the average rates for the Alphonso were Rs 700-900 per dozen. After May 20, mango prices came down to Rs 400-600 per dozen and prices are now ruling at Rs 200-400 per dozen, he said. What is important here is that the money directly goes into the farmer’s pocket instead of the commission agent or the trader, he said.
The Alphonso mangoes, grown in the Konkan region of Maharashtra, are among the few Indian farm products to enjoy a Geographic Indicators (GI) tag. Last October, the Alphonso mangoes grown in the coastal Konkan districts of Thane, Palghar, Raigad, Sindhudurg and Ratnagiri received the GI tag from the Geographical Indication Registry of India for their unique taste and aroma. About 1.5 lakh hectare are under mango cultivation in the five districts.
Alongside the domestic market, the marketing board is also promoting exports. MSAMB has targetted exports of 2,500 tonne of Alphonso and Kesar varieties of mango from the Konkan and Marathwada regions of Maharashtra.
The total export from the state would go beyond 50,000 tonne. Some 1,500 tonne was exported to Europe last year which is a premium market. At present, there are some 25,000 mango growers in the state and some 8,500 of them are registered on MangoNet.
Apeda has made it mandatory for exporters to pick mangoes for export only from growers registered on MangoNet.
Maharashtra is the largest mango exporter in the country and accounts for 90% of the total export. This season, most mango-growing states have reported a dip in output. Maharashtra, Karnataka,Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh have reported a dip in production. In Maharashtra, the production has gone down by 30 %.