UP: Mango growers fear extensive losses
As the threat of desert locusts hovers over Uttar Pradesh, anxiety has gripped the mango growers in Malihabad . Central Institute for Subtropical Horticulture (CISH) officials said if locusts attacked the mango crop, which was expected to hit the market from June 1, it would be destroyed completely.
The agriculture department has stationed around 16 tractor -mounted pesticide sprayers at border areas and 12 technicians and more than 5,000 locals in the area, armed with drums, plates and other noise making utensils to scare away the locusts.
CP Srivastava, deputy director agriculture, Lucknow said, “Desert locust attack is expected in Kanpur. It totally depends upon the wind direction. If it heads towards Lucknow, the locusts will come along. However, we have made elaborate arrangements in Malihabad, Mall and Kakori. Also we have deputed tractor-mounted sprayers on the borders to spray pesticides and also roped in locals and villagers to scare away the locusts.”
“There seems no relief for us. First the yield was much less than expectation, then came corona, followed by lockdown and now the locust attack. We don’t have any option than to watch our crops being destroyed,” said Mohammed Miyan, headman of Mujasa village in Malihabad, a part of mango belt in the state capital.
The mango belt here comprises Malihabad, Mall and Kakori tehsils.. “In all three tehsils, the records of the horticulture department suggest mango is produced on 23,589 hectares of land. Malihabad is said to be the largest contributor to the total mango production (from the mango belt) with over 10,000 hectares of land under mango farming,” said Insram Ali, president of All India Mango Growers Association. “This is a very crucial time for the mango crop since it is all set to hit the market. If any such attack occurs, it will totally destroy the crop,” said Ali.
It would be a double whammy for the mango growers already facing the brunt of the lockdown. “In UP, every year, the mango growers exported around 10 tonnes of Dussehri mangoes to the Gulf countries but this year due to lockdown there are no buyers from abroad,” he added.
Dr Shailendra Rajan, director, ICAR-Central Institute for Subtropical Horticulture (CISH) that aims to train the farmers in getting maximum yield said, “If desert locusts attack the mango belt they would surely destroy the crop set to hit the market. This is a peculiar situation never seen before.”