Once flush with fruits and dense with vegetation, Santosh Haldankar’s 500 tree orchard of hapus (alphonso mango) in Kochare village is now barren.
Untimely rainfall and sudden fluctuations in temperature have ended in smaller harvests for alphonso (Mangifera indica L) farmers in Maharashtra’s Sindhudurg district. Consignments of mangoes going to Kolhapur and Sangli markets have dropped significantly.
“The last three years have been challenging. We would send almost 10-12 vehicles full of mangoes to the markets from our village. Today we barely send one,” says Santosh who has been cultivating alphonso for over a decade.
This mango is among the three most important commodities manufactured in Sindhudurg’s Vengurla block (Census 2011). The vagaries of weather have hit the alphonso plantations in the block so much that this year’s production is not even 10 per cent of the average mango production, says the farmer.
“The climatic changes in the last 2-3 years have led to much loss,” says farmer Swara Haldankar. She points to the increased infestation of new pests that are the result of changes in weather – thrips and jassids (also known as mango hopper) have adversely affected production.
Nilesh Parab, farmer and a graduate in agriculture, has been studying the impact of thrips on mangoes and found that “none of the current pesticides work on it.”
With no profits and a significant fall in yield, farmers like Santosh and Swara don’t want their children to continue after them. “The market prices for mangoes are low, the traders cheat us, and even after working so hard, we spend all our income on fumigation and labour,” explains Swara.