Mango farmers fear loss as intense heat damages crop

If temperatures continue to surge, it will affect quality and exports.


MULTAN: Intense heat has damaged mango crop in Multan triggering apprehensions of lower yield among the farmers of the region.

Several farmers are at a risk of losing export orders and fear a dip in prices. The ideal temperature for mangoes is between 32 degrees Celsius and 34 degrees Celsius, however, in most parts of Multan District, the mercury rose above 40 degrees Celsius in April. Though temperatures dipped a bit this month, they continued to be on the higher side.

Experts said mangoes start falling off trees due to high temperatures and also develop spots on skin. They said the worst of them is a disorder called spongy tissue. It is a ripening disorder, which dries out the mango from inside, leaving a white dry mass. The mango looks perfectly ripe from outside but it is damaged from inside, they added.

Mango exports at risk of disruption as season closes in

Mango Research Station Head Abdul Ghaffar Grewal said the temperature remained unexpectedly higher last month in Multan from April 10 to 21 that caused fruit-shedding at a time when fruit size was smaller and needed conducive weather conditions for further growth.

He added, “The fruit could not bear the intensity of weather and farmers are still feeling its impact in the form of fruit dropping but at a comparatively lower rate.”

The MRI head said mango crop yielded good results last year, however, this year, flowering was far less than previous year. “If temperatures continue to remain high, the quality will be affected and it will definitely have an impact on export orders. Prices in local markets too will dip,” he said.

Mango Research Institute (MRI) Director Dr Hameedullah said higher temperature coupled with successive dust storms hit Multan that damaged the mango crop. “As a result of change in weather conditions, the farmers have suffered huge losses,” he added.

Dr Hameedullah disclosed the Mango Research Institute had initiated damage assessment survey in the mango belt of South Punjab.

Mango exporters going online to access US, Dubai markets

He pointed out most of the damage was borne by mango farmers in Multan. “The city received four dust storms during May and the most severe of them was the one received on May 14 having a velocity of 65 nautical miles per hour,” he said. The dust storms were witnessed on May 8, 10 and 12 but their intensity was lower as compared to the one on May 14, he said.

Dr Hameedullah maintained that storms accelerated the fruit dropping process.

Meanwhile, a farmer Tariq said they suffered huge losses and demanded the government to provide relief to the mango farmers in the form of waiver in water rate and other taxes. He claimed the crop suffered damage by 60% in the region.

Another farmer Laiq Ahmad said, “Intense heat and dust storms have badly damaged the mango crop, therefore we are slashing down our production estimates.”

He said there was a need to improve the harvest technology with emphasis on cold chain system and establishment of export processing zone in mango farm areas.

He said it was the need of the hour to help the farmers in grading, cooling and storage of the fruit in there own areas.

Pakistan is the sixth largest mango producing country of the world. Major markets for Pakistani mango are the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Amman, France, Afghanistan, Germany, Bahrain and the UK.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 23rd, 2017.


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