The first batches of mangoes would start reaching markets by next month, while the period is considered crucial for the fruit’s growth. By June, its harvesting would be in full swing.
Weather conditions, say orchard owners, are currently not favourable, given the unusual velocity of winds. While same winds with moderate speed help the fruit gain in size, Mohammad Mir Zafarullah Talpur, an orchard owner from Tando Jan Mohammad, said changes in wind direction result in lower productivity.
Farmers say the impact of last season’s water shortage is also visible on the crop as the availability of water started improving only from October 2014, and supplies then remained somewhat satisfactory. According to Qazi Raheem Bux, who owns 150 acres of orchards in Mirpurkhas, fresh flushing in trees in March indicates better prospects for next year’s crop.
Contractors who buy orchards’ fruits for onward selling say they don’t rule out a 10-20pc shortfall in production
So far, while the fruit is still attaining maturity, the size and required colour have not been affected by any major pest attack. The presence of hopper and powdery mildew were, however, reported. Orchard owners who sprayed their orchards would benefit.
Owing to the seasonal variations, farmers and traders are not sure about the pricing of the fruit. They would be in a better position to state the price once the crop is fully matured and ready for harvest. A progressive farmer, Imdad Ali Nizamani from Tando Allahyar, expects to have lesser crop when compared with last year. He attributes this to a rotation in the crop cycle, which was affected by unusual vegetation.
Agriculture Research Director General Atta Soomro agrees with the farmers that variations in temperature did have a serious effect on the crop. Whenever unusual flushing takes place at the time of flowering, the uptake of nutrients in trees is diverted and this impacts productivity.
While he does expect impressive-sized mangoes, it would be the average-sized fruit that would dominate the market this year.
Contractors who buy orchards’ fruits for onward selling say they don’t rule out a 10-20pc shortfall in production.
A Karachi-based exporter-cum-contractor Mohammad Asif fears that the yield of the ‘chaunsa’ variety of mango may decline this year. He added that deals between orchard owners and contractors have witnessed a 20-25pc increase this year.
To combat fruit fly, department of plant production (DPP) field officers are surveying orchards of landowners, seeking registration. Last year, 140 applicants had applied for registration but only 30 received it. This year, says DPP Director General Dr Mubarak, the number of applications for registration has significantly increased.
It is necessary for a farmer intending to get his farm registered to adopt proper practices, ensure the required upkeep of the farm, avoid intercropping and take care of hygiene issues etc. DPP officials visit the farms at the time of harvest. This is a continuous process to ensure that all registration-related parameters are met, so the fruits become attractive for exporters.
But to make inroads into the high-end markets of the European Union, growers require Good Agriculture Practices (GAP) certification, which many of them do not have, according to Mahmood Nawaz Shah, a global GAP-certified farmer.
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