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2024 turns out to be the worst-ever season for mango growers in Rayalaseema in five decades

A mango garden with delayed crop pattern and low yield on the outskirts of Chittoor on Wednesday.

A mango garden with delayed crop pattern and low yield on the outskirts of Chittoor on Wednesday. , Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Kothur Babu, an experienced mango grower in Chittoor district, laments that the yield in his orchard has plummeted by over 80% and the prospects of earing profit with the remaining crop looks remote.

The situation has only turned adverse as his competitors from Telangana and Tamil Nadu have already started their supplies to the pulp industries that are predominantly located in the Chittoor region, he rues.

At present, there is standing crop in an extent of about 2.75 lakh acres in the combined Chittoor district. However, the per-acre yield has fallen to 1.5 tonne from 6.5 tonne earlier.

According to the horticulture officials, the growers in Chittoor had harvested a bumper 8 lakh-plus tonne of mangoes the previous season, a record that looks beyond reach this year.

Having pocketed decent to overwhelming profits the previous year, the mango growers had expected similar earning this time too. But lack of rains in 2023, immediately after the harvest, led to drastic fall in yield in 2024. Coupled with deficit rainfall in November last, the devastation caused by cyclone in December 2023 delayed flowering. In March this year, fluctuations in temperatures further scuttled the growth rate.

“Going by the last 50-year statistics, 2024 will remain the worst-ever season for the mango growers in the Chittoor region,” says Deputy Director (Horticulture) D. Madhusudan Reddy.

Due to plummeting yield, the price tag for most table and pulp varieties ranges between ₹22,000 and ₹55,000 per tonne. The heavy price will not auger well for a majority of the farmers, he says.

“After excluding the capital investment, labour charges and crop maintenance costs, what is left for a farmer is meagre,” says Jagadeesh, a young mango grower from Bangarupalem.

Coming to the pulp industries, there are 31 active units in Chittoor, which usually hold a capacity to deal 6.5 lakh tonne each season. With 80% slump in yield in the Rayalaseema region, some of them have already started procuring stocks from Vijayawada and Krishnagiri in Tamil Nadu, with Thothapuri variety fetching ₹10 to ₹12 a kg.

The horticulture officials say that peak harvesting will commence in Chittoor, Annamayya and Kurnool districts from June 1 and continue till the end of the mongh. In view of the elections, and the inordinate delay in the crop pattern, the issue is yet to grab the attention of the authorities, who play a key role in fixing the price for the stocks supplied to the pulp industries.

A majority of the farmers say that due to heavy costs involved in harvesting, that too with sporadic presence of mangoes in sprawling gardens, the chances of leaving the fruit unharvested, or auctioning it in local markets are high.

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