INDIA: Malda mango shiver

Mango cultivators of Malda are apprehending a drop in production in the summer because of the current cold weather and intense fog.


The farmers said absence of sunshine raised the possibility of fungal attacks and impeded the maturation of flowers into fruits.


“We have been experiencing cold weather for the past couple of weeks. There has been a dense fog and the sun was hardly visible. That is why we are worried. If the cold and fog continue, there is a high chance of fungal attack. This means the production will drop,” said Asit Das, a farmer based in Kajigram of Englishbazar in Malda district.


Dipankar Mondal, another farmer, elaborated on the issue.


“Bright and sunny days are essential for the growth of mango flowers and eventually, the fruit. Sunny days can reduce the risk of fungal attack even if the weather is cold. But the haze and fog prevent sunlight from reaching mango trees. That is why we are apprehensive of losses. In fact, there are reports that some mango flowers have already been damaged,” said the farmer.


Malda town had recorded a minimum temperature of 6 degrees Celsius on many days this year and the mercury didn’t climb beyond 13 degrees.


The Malda District Chambers of Commerce and Malda Exporters’ Association said the mango production was around 2.70 lakh metric tons in the district last year.


“In the coming season, we were expecting that the production would reach up to five lakh metric tons or so. But the sudden spate of low temperature has dashed our hopes,” said Ujjal Saha, the general secretary of the chambers of commerce.


Saha said exporters had already started receiving orders from abroad. “If the production is hit, we will face problems to fulfil the orders,” he added.


Agricultural experts said drop in the temperature and frost affected mango production. “Situation is similar in Andhra Pradesh, another state where mango is produced in our country. The cold weather affects the flower-to-fruit growth. A flower that is hit by the weather can develop into a fruit but there is a chance of it falling off before maturity,” said an expert.


Rahul Chakraborty, a deputy director of the state horticulture department in Malda, however, said: “There were similar weather conditions in 2008 when the temperature had dropped below 10 degree Celsius for some days. But even then, it was a good season. The farmers might be concerned but it is not that the entire production would be lost.”


Written by Kousik Sen, The Telegraph

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