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Publication Date : 20-06-2013
Season of mangoes, the king of fruits, is now in full swing as the fruit has made it to the market in big quantity.
The season of the delicious fruit will last until the end of July. There are varying assessments of stakeholders as to size of crop and rates in the market.
Wholesale fruit market is brimming with buyers, exporters and traders on a daily basis as truck loads of the fruit start reaching market early in the morning.
Sindhri with its richness in size, outlook and taste is available to purchase from every roadside fruit vendor, who in turn charge exorbitant prices from consumer's. This despite the fact that they buy it at comparatively lesser prices from wholesalers.
After adding the cost of transportation and labour, the fruit is finally sold at 70 Pakistani rupees (US$0.70) or 80 rupees (US$0.80) per kilogram at the consumer’s end. The prices will jack up further as the season proceeds and supply of fruits gets low.
“Vendors charge rates at will from buyers, although we are selling fruit at an affordable price for consumers,” claims a commission agent and wholesaler of Hyderabad fruit markets, Ziauddin.
Not only mangoes but it applies to other fruits as well, he asserts. For instance, he continues, he is selling an eight kg apricot’s box for 500 rupees (US$5.07) which means 62.50 rupees (US$0.63) per kg but it is being sold in the market for 200 rupees (US$2.03) a kilogram as retail price.
So the hike in price in mangoes is at the vendor’s end from his point of view too.
Exporters who buy fruits for Iran and other countries are present in the market. They visit farms directly, selecting fruit in terms of size and look for which they pay more.
According to commission agents like Nisar Arain the quality number-1 mango is sold for 1600 rupees (US$16.24) per maund and a mixed kind of quality for 900 rupees (US$9.13) as well.
Although mangoes start arriving somewhere in mid May, the actual season begins in the first week of June. This is especially so when it comes to eating sweet Sindhri, which fully develops its taste by that time after full exposure to desired weather conditions.
Mango traders, experts and researchers were unanimous in their view that this year’s crop is facing a shortfall of 20 to 25 percent and according to a progressive farmer like Imdad Nizamani of Tando Allahyar it is a substantial deficit in fruit’s production.
His assessment is that shortfall is attributable to extended winter season that had affected bud’s formation and subsequently flower setting in the tree.
“Buds have to appear by late December or early January and it is followed by flowering but this time around it was badly affected and so was the fruit’s production,” says Nizamani, who manages his own farm.
Usually mango farming is handled by traders who get farms on contract from mango farm owners as they avoid handling a full year’s crop like mangoes and that’s why they opt for signing a deal with traders to outsource their farms for multiple number of years.
According to Nizamani, fruit prices have been facing suppression for the past one week too. He says that a truck loaded with 240 maunds of fruit was saleable for 250,000 rupees (US$2,536) or so, but is now being sold for 175,000 rupees (US$1,775).
He says he himself had sent fruit for export to Afghanistan but in last few days it has stopped due to troubles in that region and suppressing prices.
Ziauddin, however, disagrees with him as far as crop’s size is concerned. He says that fruit is available in the market in sufficient quantity.
“It always happens that fruit faces some drop in production for multiple reason. This year we sold the fruit for 1200 rupees (US$12.18) a maund and as of June 6 I sold it for 1400 rupees (US$14.21) to 1500 rupees (US$15.22) per maund,” he says.
But another grower Nadeem Shah agrees with Nizamani, saying a 25 percent drop is too visible.
He links it with a drop in acreage of mango farming especially after the 2011 heavy rains in Mirpurkhas region, home of mangoes production, where rainwater had accumulated in most of the farms.
“The rainwater had harmed the soil’s quality and many orchards were cut by owners like me,” he says.
He adds that extended winter season did play a major role in affecting crop’s size.
“The crop’s full fledged arrival in the market was affected by a fortnight this year,” he says.
He rejects Sindh Agriculture department’s figures which show that acreage of mango farming has increased in 2012 as compared to 2011.
According to these figures mango farms existed on 60,055 hectares in Sindh in 2011 and in 2012 these stood at 60,467 hectares.
Shah says such figures are absolutely fictitious.
“They (agriculture officials) don’t have a proper assessment methodology and rely on the revenue department’s data,” he says and adds that even DG Agriculture Extension Hidayatullah Chajjro personally agreed with his view about a drop in mango acreage.
Mangoes production stands at around 1.7 to 1.8 million tonnes annually. Punjab makes the major share followed by Sindh. Areas of Mirpurkhas, Tando Allahyar, Sanghar, Khairpur Naushahro Feroze and Benazirabad are noted for mango production in the province.
It was only after May 20 that matured mango crop had started reaching the market following a fortnight delay in its arrival.
As mentioned above the changing weather patterns had delayed the ripening process too. The storms did cause damages to the crop, but these were especially notable in Mirpurkhas which was mainly hit by hailstorm.
Ghulam Sarwar Abro, another progressive farmer, who also managed his farm personally and exports the fruit to UK and Netherlands, remains satisfied with fruit’s production.