The annual mango harvest in Ratnagiri and Sindudurg districts is still a month away, but farmers are already being aggressively wooed by companies. This is because these districts produce 1.15 lakh tonnes of the famed alphonso mangoes, which fetch a premium in both domestic and export markets.
Farmers say Reliance Retail has visited Ratnagiri orchards and wants to buy 1,300 tonnes of alphonsos, while Jalgaon-based Jain Irrigation has asked for 600-800 tonnes for exports.
They expect others like Pantaloon Retail and ITC to come shopping too. Last year, they sold 7,000 boxes, each containing a dozen mangoes, to Big Bazaar.
Farmers told Mint that Reliance had told them the mangoes would be sold through its Reliance Fresh stores and also exported. The company, they added, had asked for 500 tonnes of mangoes to be exported to Europe and Japan.
A Reliance spokesperson, however, declined to comment. The farmers said Reliance had assured them that it would buy the mangoes for 20 per cent more than the wholesale price. The wholesale price for five to six dozen mangoes was around Rs 400 last year. On the street, a dozen’s pack would range from Rs 800-1,500 in March to Rs 300-600 in May, by which time other varieties of mangoes compete for shelf space.
"If corporate houses like Reliance come forward to purchase (mangoes directly), farmers will finally get the price they deserve instead of being cheated by commission agents in Vashi,” said Vidyadhar Joshi, a mango cultivator from Sindudurg.