Mango farmers in Andhra, Telangana stare at losses

Hyderabad, April 23 (IANS) Despite a lower yield this year, the mango farmers in both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are facing tough time in marketing the produce due to ongoing lockdown.

The mango growers in both the Telugu states are staring at losses due to lack of adequate transport facility and closure of several markets in towns.

While the governments, especially in Telangana, have come to the rescue of paddy and maize farmers by deciding to purchase their entire produce, the horticulture farmers are not getting much support.

“Farmers growing produce with short shelf life badly need the support. Fruits like banana and mangoes can’t be stored like other produce. If not transported and sold in time, the farmers will suffer huge losses,” said V. Naveen Kumar, whose mobile app NaPanta provides a host of free services to farmers in both the Telugu states.

The closure of Gaddianaram market on the outskirts of Hyderabad added to the woes of mango farmers. Authorities shut the market for mangoes from Thursday as they were finding it difficult to ensure social distancing to check the spread of coronavirus.

On an average, 100-200 tonnes of mangoes are brought to the market daily during April and it reaches the peak of 1,000 tonnes in May. However, farmers from both the states brought 1,600 tonnes of mangoes to the market on Wednesday, the last day of the transactions at the market.

Lack of clarity on whether the market will be shifted to another place has caused unease among the farmers. Farmers’ leaders say many growers are not getting trucks to bring their produce to the city. Transport to other states and even from one district to the other district has become difficult.

The closure of the market around the peak of the season has dealt a huge blow to the farmers.

Though agriculture is exempted from the lockdown, not many trucks are being operated either due to coronavirus scare or because of the restrictions.

At Kothapet, another major fruit market in Hyderabad, mango arrival has come down by about 30 per cent during April compared to the last year.

It is from markets in Hyderabad that the mangoes are transported to Delhi, Mumbai, Jaipur and other places in the country. However, traders are worried due to lack of transport facilities in view of the restrictions on inter-state borders.

Even if the lockdown in the rest of the country is lifted on May 3, those in Telangana will have to wait for four more days as the state government has extended the lockdown till May 7.

Mangoes come to markets in Hyderabad from various locations in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Nuzivid, Nandyal, Anantapur, Dhone, Kadiri, Eluru, Visakhapatnam and Rayachoti in Andhra Pradesh are known for large cultivation of mangoes.

Benishan, Totapuri, Neelam, Rasalu, Himayat and Dasheri are among the popular varieties of the king of fruits.

There is an estimated 40 per cent drop in mango cultivation compared to last year. Lack of rains at the right time is said to be the main reason for the less yield.

Agriculture Minister K. Kannababu claimed that export of mangoes to other states and countries had started. According to him, 140 tonnes of mangoes were exported during the last two days.

Special good trains are being operated from Visakhapatnam to transport mangoes to Delhi. The East Coast Railway last week arranged a special train to carry the mangoes.

Meanwhile, in a move to ease the supply chain bottleneck, mangoes procured from farmers in Andhra Pradesh are being supplied directly to consumers in a few selected townships and gated communities in Hyderabad.

This is being done under the ‘Farm to Family’ initiative launched under Andhra Pradesh Irrigation and Livelihood Improvement Project. The project is financed by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and implemented by the Water Resources Department (WRD), Department of Horticulture, AP Food Processing Society and other allied departments.

The project officials and E&Y LPP team, the consultants for implementation of pilot value chain development of selected crops under the project, devised the innovative way to ease the supply chain bottleneck, where the farmers get their share of income and the consumers get to relish the naturally ripened mangoes.

–IANS

ms/vd