Hindustan Times (Lucknow)
Malihabadi Dussehri set to go dearer this season
: People will have to loosen their purse strings if they wish to gorge themselves on luscious Malihabadi Dussehri this season. Reason: Mango production in the state’s prime mango belt has witnessed a sharp dip. The production has come down to less than 1.5 lakh metric tonne this year against the average production of around 8 to 9 lakh metric tonnes usually.
“Unlike previous years when Dussehri mango used to be available for Rs 10 to 15 per kg, the prices this year will be somewhere between Rs 45 and Rs 60,” said Insram Ali, president of All India Mango Growers Association while highlighting the grim scenario of UP’s mango belt including that of Lucknow which is one of the largest.
Citing multiple reasons for the poor yield, Ali said, “It’s largely due to the pandemic and less effective pesticides. Due to the pandemic, there was scarcity of labour due to which timely spraying of pesticides could not be done.
This was the reason why a disease caused by caterpillar insects spoiled most of the crop. Besides, the pesticides available in the market were less effective and could not contain the disease.”
The sharp dip in production has also added to the woes of mango growers who are already reeling under acute crisis after last mango season was hit badly by the pandemic-induced lockdown and government restrictions. Ali demanded waiver of electricity bills and compensation for farmers who are yet to overcome the losses they suffered during last year.
Shailendra Rajan, director, Central Institute of Subtropical Horticulture, too said apart from other factors the pest infestation badly damaged the mango crop. He said the infestation starts with the fruiting stage and once the fruit is damaged or develops spots, it loses its market value
“We are yet to overcome the losses we incurred in the last mango season when our crop was completely destroyed for want of labourers and pesticides. And now the disease and other factors have again left us hand to mouth,” said Mohammed Miyan, head of Mujasa village, who owns a mango farm in Malihabad mango belt.
The state capital has three of its tehsils—Malihabad, Mall and Kakori—in the mango belt. In all three tehsils, the records of horticulture department suggest that mango is produced on total 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 used for mango farming.