India

Tamil Nadu: Beaten to pulp by COVID-19, mango farmers of Krishnagiri district seek aid

By Express News Service

KRISHNAGIRI: Mango farmers across the district are severely hit by poor yield and lack of returns because of the lockdown. Farmers accused the Horticulture department of failing to help them to market the fruits and that the lack of modern technology in cultivating mangoes has led to massive losses.

Mango capital

Krishnagiri is known as the Mango capital of India where over 40,000 hectares is used for mango cultivation. Krishnagiri’s mango produce is the most sought after in countries like Russia, Singapore, Australia, France, said sources. A wide variety of mangoes –  Totapuri, Alphonsa, Neelam and Sendura – are cultivated and exported.

Produce affected

Guru Shiva, a farmer, said, “This year’s mango cultivation has been severely affected by pest attack during the flowering season. This, coupled with unfavourable climate and untimely fertilising, has resulted in most farmers facing a 50 per cent decline in yield.” Guru who cultivates mango in his two-acre orchard said that on average the orchard would have produced up to four to six-tonne yield per acre.

Pulp industry

Guru also said that pulp industries had cut down procurement because of losses. “Pulp industries are offering Rs 10,000 per tonne. There are over four cycles of pesticides sprayed every season and this price merely helps break even with the cost of pesticide,” he said.

Chinnasamy, another farmer, said that most of the locals were ignored by pulp industries and that they were procuring from Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh for lower prices. He further said those mangoes were of poor quality and that this trend could hurt Krishnagiri’s reputation.

Plea for aid

The farmers collectively urged that the Horticulture department should bring in more innovation into mango cultivation to protect yield from insect attack and improve fructose content. When The New Indian Express spoke to senior officials in the Horticulture department, they said, “As far as the retail market is concerned, we provide the best price in Uzhavar Sandhai. But, we cannot interfere with private industries and their rates. We can offer advice, but at the end of the day the decision is with the farmers.”

Officials also added that farmers leasing out their land to private cultivators and the maintenance of orchards have drastically reduced. They noted a decrease in mango cultivation area by almost 4000 hectares.

On pulp industries choosing mangoes from other states, officials cited that mango season starts early in other states and that their prices were competitive.

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