Heatwave shrivels mango crop for Bihar's farmers; heavy loss expected
Mango crops in Bihar have suffered huge losses due to the severe heatwave conditions in the state. As per the estimate of farmers and agri-scientists, the extreme weather conditions have damaged around 65-70% of mango crops in the state so far. Experts also believed that due to intense heatwave, the flowering time of the crop got escalated, resulting in a bad crop.
- Bihar is known for a wide variety of mangoes such as Digha Maldah, Jardalu, Gulab Khaas, and Aamrapal.
- It also ranks fourth in the list of mango-producing states, accounting for over 8% of the country's total mango production.
- In normal weather conditions, Bihar produces over five lakh tons of mangoes.
- The total area under mango production in Bihar ranges between 1.58-1.6 lakh hectares.
Bihar has been experiencing high temperatures since March, which is the flowering time of mangoes. "Maximum mango flowers got damaged due to unusually hot weather," said Mohammad Feza Ahmad, associate director, research wing, Bihar Agriculture University (BAU), Sabour. Furthermore, mangoes failed to grow in size and didn't get stronger due to pre-monsoon rains.
Ashok Chaudhary, a farmer from Bhagalpur, widely known as the "Mango Man of Bihar," said that hardly 30% of the total mango production of the state will survive this time. "The heatwave conditions in the state has caused a huge loss. High temperature also catalyzed the growth of red-banded caterpillars which are still damaging the fruits (sic)," he added.
Choudhary said many farmers are also expecting that their loss could be compensated through the exportation of mangoes to foreign countries. "But sending mangoes through flight is a costly affair," he added.
Ahmad said he had never seen such a low production of mangoes in Bihar in the last 50 years. "I am worried about what the mango farmers will do this time... This is the season they earn money, which helps them sustain throughout the year," he added. Sanjay Sahay, chairman of the BAU's horticulture department, said farmers need subsidies for the packaging of products.
Bihar's Agriculture Minister Amarendra Pratap Singh acknowledged that heatwave conditions had adversely impacted mango farmers in the state. "Farmers must be at a loss. We will definitely try to compensate for this loss," he said. "First, we will review the damage caused to the mango crop and the report will be submitted to the government," he added.