The King of fruits will leave a slightly bitter taste in the mouth this summer. The freak weather in March has damaged the crop at the flowering stage and is likely to impact mango output by at least 20% in Uttar Pradesh. As a result, several popular mango varieties from UP, which caters to the fruit markets of Delhi and elsewhere, are bound to cost a lot more for the consumers.
Mango farming is one of the most profitable cash crop businesses in at least a dozen districts of Uttar Pradesh, area-wise the largest mango-growing region in the country. But the mango growers’ hopes of a bumper harvest and bumper profit will take a hit thanks to the erratic weather.
“The mango crop here in Malihabad has been hit hard. High temperature is a must for the flowers to sustain,” said Haji Kaleemullah Khan, a Padmashri awardee popularly known as the mango-man in these parts. “As a result, the cost of the Dussheri mango will go up by Rs 10-20 per kg,” said Khan. Last year, good quality Dussheri sold for Rs 40 per kg, while the Safeda and Chausa were pegged at Rs 30-35 per kg.
“The most severe damage of 25-30% has been felt in Bangarmau, some areas of Malihabad and Saharanpur district,” said Prof Sudhir Panwar, president of the Kisan Jagriti Manch and a Lucknow University professor. According to him, the mango belt of Maal-Malihabad-Kakori, spread across 35,000 hectares, alone contributes at least 30-40% of the state’s annual mango production.
Trade experts are cautious. “Crop damage is there, but it’s difficult to assess the overall impact on production at this stage,” said Insram Ali, president of the Mango Growers’ Association of India. Ali claims mangoes from UP are the most sought after in Saudi Arabia and Dubai.
Meanwhile, “mango man” Haji Kaleemullah has produced a new variety of mango and named it after Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He hopes the new mango variety will reach the PM in due course. Kaleemullah has a penchant for producing new mango varieties and naming them after celebrities or politicians that are the flavour of the season. His past mango roll of honour includes actor Aishwariya Rai Bachchan, cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and UP CM Akhilesh Yadav. He has even dedicated a mango variety to the memory of Nirbhaya, the 2012 Delhi gangrape victim.