Apart from UP, lower output is seen in key growing areas of Gujarat, Maharashtra also
© Paul Noronha
Apart from UP, lower output is seen in key growing areas of Gujarat, Maharashtra also
Growers fear up to 70% crop loss due to cold weather

Faced with climatic adversities and competition from neighbouring countries, India is set to lose the export market for its famed mangoes.

Mango production in the main growing regions of Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat and South India is likely to to be hit due to uneven weather.

Weather vagaries

Production in Uttar Pradesh is likely to be down by about 70 per cent compared to last year, because of the cold and moist weather during the flowering stage.

DK Sharma, Vice-President of Lucknow-based Mango Growers Association of India, said, "We fear a crop loss of about 70 per cent. The continuous cold weather followed by unseasonal rains during the flowering time played havoc due to which the pollination process got disrupted and mango fertilisation couldn't happen. There were reports of shedding of the fruits in many places. This is the scenario in Gujarat and parts of Maharashtra. We believe that overall mango production in the country will fall."

Shipments fall

According to the Association's estimates, last year's production was reported at about 185 lakh tonnes from 25 lakh hectares, of which about 25 per cent came from Uttar Pradesh alone. The export statistics revealed that India shipped about 49,180 tonnes of mango in 2017-18.

Notably, since 2016-17, India's mango exports have been going down from 52,760 tonnes.

Sharma said that with reduced crop size, exports will be hit due to tough competition with neighbouring Pakistan. The common market is UAE and West Asia. "Most of our mangoes go to this region and Pakistan has a logistical advantage. Now, if we look Far East, Thailand is our competitor. Hence, it is tough for export in a small crop."

According to market estimates, in the international market one kg of mangoes fetches anywhere between ₹115 and ₹135, which is unviable for Indian exporters because of the costly logistics and falling output.

Normally, flowering starts from January 15 and lasts till February 15. But this year the climate has disturbed the flowering cycle and impacted the crop.

Gujarat and Maharashtra, too, witnessed cold climate with hailstorm in some of the growing regions causing droppings from the mango trees.

Sops sought

"Most impact is seen in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. The crop will be much less and exports will be unviable as prices will shoot up. We have demanded an export incentive package from the Centre," said S Insram Ali, President of the Mango Growers Association.

India's superior quality mango varieties such as alphonso, dashehri and kesar mango are much in demand. However, with losing competitiveness in the international market due to increased costs, exports are sliding further.

"This is a worrying scenario because over the years we are seeing mango production going down and there are climatic impacts on the fruit. As an adverse effect of climate change, we may see serious change in the mango business," said Sharma.

Exporters stated that overseas demand from Korea, Singapore, US, Europe is strong but there is a lack of government incentive to cover the logistics cost and make Indian mangoes internationally competitive.