Cyclone fells mango trees in Gujarat, brings farmers agony

Business

Mango farmers in Gujarat are having a hard time as cyclone Tauktae has caused severe financial losses by destroying a large number of trees.

Bhima Odedara, a farmer at Valsad, said: “The harvesting season of mangoes begins in April, and the month of May is considered a peak season. The season had just begun, and the cyclone ruined everything. Forget mangoes; the main issue is that trees got uprooted. Out of a total of 100 mango trees at my farm, 70 got uprooted. It will probably take six years to grow them again.”

Savdas Kana, a farmer at Ramgadh, said: “80% of our mangoes were yet to be plucked. We will incur huge losses. Only rains might not have resulted in such a situation. Heavy winds caused much damage. There are around 1,000 mango trees at my farm. It took more than 12 years to cultivate this farm. Now I am clueless about how to manage everything.”

“Mangoes are cultivated as children, and the trees take a much longer period to grow as compared to other crops. Hence, bringing it back to the normal condition might take several years,” Kana added.

Ramesh Desai, a farmer at Gir, said: “Normally we start to pluck mangoes after Akshaya Tritiya. By the end of the season, we usually make profits in lakhs. However, this time we aren’t even sure about earning in thousands. The damaged mangoes will be sold cheap….”

As a result of the farmers’ losses, customers end up paying more.

Bharti M, a customer, said: “Owing to the destruction caused at farms, the prices of mango have gone up steadily. A week ago, it cost Rs 60 per kg. Now it has increased to Rs 125 per kg. Also, the quality of mangoes has deteriorated.”

Spoilt mangoes that fall from trees cause a reduction in sellers’ incomes.

Ram Trivedi, a seller, said: “The farmers sold their mangoes in bulk quantities. I altogether received 50 kg of mangoes. Gusty winds and heavy rains caused the mangoes to fall from trees, resulting in losses. If the mangoes don’t get sold within a week, I will have to bear the loss or else they will get spoiled. Sales are already down due to Covid-19…. The cyclone is further contributing to our losses.”

Made Rana, who rented a mango farm, said: “We do not have any option but to sell all the mangoes that fell from trees. However, customers don’t buy damaged mangoes. This will affect our sales and result in reduced incomes.”

Agricultural scientists had warned the farmers about the impending weather conditions.

Dr C.K. Timbadiya, a senior scientist at Krushi Vigyan Kendra, said they had advised farmers to pluck as many mangoes as possible and sell them at an early stage.

The mango farmers experienced a loss of around 60 per cent.

Western Gujarat’s villages that were not hit by the cyclone experienced other difficulties.

In Gir, Junagadh and Valsad districts, Tauktae led to uprooted trees and power cuts.  

Mayur Bhogesara, a farmer from Bhokhar, said: “We had green gram in our farms that was yet to be reaped. Following alerts of rain, we harvested it 15 days early. Moreover, we worked continuously for 72 hours to harvest green gram, fodder, and other crops in our farms. Additionally, we shifted our essentials like documents, clothes and foodgrains to pucca houses due to the fear of the cyclone. Our areas weren’t affected by the cyclone.”

Sunil Patel, a farmer from Bhavnagar district, said: “The cyclone has affected crops like bajra and green gram sown in our fields as we had to harvest them early. However, the damage is less than that at farms that got affected by the cyclone. The harvesting of unripe crops may lead to around 30 per cent losses.”

Devshi Nagdev, a Khapat-based farmer, said: “Migrant labourers left last month. With the help of neighbours and family members, we shifted essentials to safer places. Our farms weren’t as badly affected as mango farms.”

Cyclone Tauktae hit the coast of Gujarat and caused heavy rains and winds in states along the west coast. The India Meteorological Department classified as an ‘‘extremely severe cyclonic storm’’. It was the fifth-strongest cyclone ever recorded in the Arabian Sea

In the wake of the cyclone, on May 17, a barge sank leaving 26 people died and over 50 missing. 

nishita.a@iijnm.org

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