ISLAMABAD: Climate change, severe water shortages, unavailability of fertilizers and the early start of summer mean the country’s mango production is likely to fall by 30 percent as orchards in major mango-growing areas have been hit hard.
According to officials and farmers of the major mango growing areas in Multan, Muzaffargarh, Vehari, Khanewal and adjacent areas, the adverse effects of climate change, expensive labor and shortage of fertilizers have created a serious crisis for the plantation owners and people associated with the mango business since the production has decreased significantly this year.
According to mango farmers and agriculture officials, the high temperatures in early March have had a negative impact on crops along with water shortages, disrupting the biological cycle of mango production. With the start of fruit development in April, the harvest was confronted with extreme storms, which also led to production losses of around five percent.
According to Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC) Chairman Dr. Ghulam Ali, the early arrival of summer did not allow the harvest time required for the fruiting process. He said that not only mango production faces adverse effects of climate change this year, but also other crops such as cotton, corn, sugar cane and feed production are being disrupted due to the heat wave and water shortages. He said livestock in the country are also facing serious impacts from water shortages and the heatwave.
“Pakistan is one of the hardest hit countries due to climate change and we have witnessed exceptionally high temperatures in the months of March and April this year. We must work on mitigating climate change, establishing water reservoirs and developing heat and drought resistant crops in Pakistan,” said Dr. Ali.
Eatsham Mughal, a Multan-based mango grower who spoke to this correspondent, said that South Punjab is the largest mango-growing area in the country, but this year mango production has been severely impacted as the duration of the spring season is extremely short this year and summer started earlier
Hassan Siddiqui, a mango grower from Mirpurkhas district, Sindh, said that Sindh, like other parts of the country’s mango-growing areas, is also facing the same situation where extremely high temperatures, less irrigation water and strong winds are affecting mango production. Experts and growers said a shortage of 30 percent in the production of Sindhri mango varieties is feared this year.
The country produced about 1.7 to 1.8 million tons of mangoes last year, according to an official with the Ministry of National Food Security and Research, but this year he said mango production in the country could fall by 30 percent.
Farmers have urged the government to reopen the closed canals immediately, especially in Multan, Muzaffargarh, Layyah and Bahawalpur districts should severe water shortages and drought be stopped immediately.
Mohammad Rafi, a mongoose grower from Vehari district, said there was an urgent need to introduce modern mango production techniques in the country that would increase production per hectare from the current 1.7 to 1.8 million tons to about 3 .5 million tons could double. He said high input costs, especially fertilisers, pesticides, electricity bills and climate change are the main reasons for the low production. He added that if the government ensures the availability of cheap inputs by focusing on modern orchard management practices, the average grower could increase production per hectare from 12 tons to 22-25 tons.
He said production, quality, shape and size of mangoes could be improved, adding potassium to expensive fertilizers and growers ignoring its application, resulting in low production. Most growers don’t even know when to irrigate mango orchards, he lamented.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022