Kolkata: Despite a bumper yield this year, farmers growing mangoes in West Bengal’s Malda district are apprehensive about the impact of the covid-induced lockdown on the sale of the seasonal fruit. Only mangoes are seen in the trees throughout the garden. But the question is, where will so many mangoes be sold? There are fears of coronavirus and, on the other side, the transport is practically closed due to the ongoing lockdown. Adding to the panic is the fury of cyclone Yaas. All in all, there is a growing concern about the sale of mangoes in Malda.
After about four years, the mangoes have grown in abundance in Malda. Mango farming always depends on the weather and due to a favourable weather this time, the yield has been quite good, farmers say. The fruit was cultivated in 31,000 hectares of land in Malda this year.
According to the district horticulture department, the yield this time may be around 3.5 lakh metric tonne. Last year, the yield in the district was two lakh 40 thousand metric tonne. Generally, the work of planting and marketing mangoes in Malda begins in the last week of May. However, this time the work could not be started in the same manner.
Of all the mango varieties grown in Malda, Gopalbhog is the first to hit the markets. Although this variety is being planted in some orchards at present, most of the mango growers have not started the work of plucking mangoes for fear of not getting market yet. Due to the lockdown situation, there is no way to pluck mangoes from the orchards and send them to foreign states or distant districts till May 30. Cyclone Yaas’s impact has also added to the woes of the farmers.
Now almost all the gardens in Malda are filled with mangoes. In this case, there is a risk of a lot of mangoes falling due to the harmful effects of storms and rains. Malda’s mango market was once considered big for neighbouring Bangladesh. But mango exports to Bangladesh have been halted for several years due to excessive increase in import duty. At present, most of the mangoes in Malda go to neighbouring states of Assam, Tripura and Bihar. However, due to the problem of lockdown in different states, there is uncertainty about sending mangoes this time. As a result, though the yield is good in Malda this time, farmers are not certain to get the price accordingly.
Mango is cultivated in 31,000 hectare of farmland in the district’s eight blocks. English Bazar, Old Malda, Manikchak, Ratua, Harishchandrapur and Chachal have most of the mango orchards. Last year, 1.2 lakh metric ton mangoes were destroyed in nor’westers. Around 2.40 lakh metric tonne production was recorded, officials said. No major damage to mangoes due to nor’westers or hailstorms was reported so far this year. Besides Langra, the other types of mangoes produced in the district are Gutthi, Laxmanbhog, Gopalbhog, Himsagar, Amrapali, Mallika, Fazli and Ashwina.