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regular-article-logo Friday, 12 July 2024

Malda swelters and mango wilts, growers fear 50 per cent drop in production this year

“A long spell of winter, occasional showers in early March and the recent heat wave-like conditions have together left an adverse impact on the mango production in the district,” Samanta Layek, a senior official of the state horticulture department, said

Soumya De Sarkar Malda Published 11.05.24, 07:34 AM
Workers sprinkle water on mango trees in Malda

Workers sprinkle water on mango trees in Malda Picture by Soumya De Sarkar

The state horticulture department and farmers apprehend that mango production will be around 50 per cent less this year in Malda district thanks to inclement weather conditions.

“A long spell of winter, occasional showers in early March and the recent heat wave-like conditions have together left an adverse impact on the mango production in the district,” Samanta Layek, a senior official of the state horticulture department, said.

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He has said mango trees start budding in late January and early February when the weather is less chilly.

“But this year, a moderate spell of winter continued till late February. Rainfall at intervals affected the buds and the reproductive growth turned into vegetative growth. Finally, the heat-wave-like conditions in April and early May further affected the production of mangoes,” said Layek.

In Malda, the average annual production of mangoes varies between three and three-and-a-half lakh tons.

“However, we anticipate the production will not exceed 1.5 lakh tons this year because of the adverse weather conditions. So, the prices will go up and certain varieties like Lyangra will be more costly,” said Uzzal Saha, the president of the Malda Mango Merchants’ Association (MMMA).

He said the loss in the production would affect around one lakh people
who were directly dependent on mango cultivation.

“Another three lakh people who are associated with mango packaging and manufacturing of items like pickles and candy will also suffer. The climate has badly affected all those associated with the sector,” Saha said.

When the harvesting of mangoes starts in the district every year, a section of migrant workers return home.

“This is because they can work in orchards while staying at homes and earn the same amount they get outside Bengal. Once the harvest is over, they return to their workplaces,” said Ujjwal Chowdhury, the secretary of the MMMA.

But this time, most of the migrant workers are not ready to return because of the loss in production.

In Malda, mango is cultivated on around 31,000 hectares of land. The district has also litchi plantations spread across 1,400 hectares.

Unlike mango, the production of litchi has not been affected by climatic conditions.

“Approximately, 15,000 tons of litchis are produced in Malda. Since the stalks of the litchi buds are stronger than those of mangoes and there was late blooming, the production has not been affected,” said Layek.

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