Alphonso Mango flowering may escape the brunt of unseasonal heavy rains
October 20, 2020
three districts of the Konkan – Ratnagiri, Sindhdurgh and Raigad have
been witnessing varying intensities of rainfall over the last week
and this is expected to continue till the end of this month. The late
unseasonal showers are not part of the regular monsoon but are due to
low pressure systems developed over the Bay of Bengal and the Deccan
plateau. Though the brunt of the rain has been borne by Telangana and
Eastern part of Maharashtra, the Konkan belt has also been hit.
conditions were overall quite conducive for a healthy mango flowering
and it looks like this will be largely unaffected by the unseasonal
rains. It remains to be seen what the actual impact of this will be
though some amount of loss of flowering is bound to happen.
expect first flowering to start from early November and the gradual
onset of winter and colder temperatures will further aid the flower
setting. Alphonso mango is an extremely sensitive fruit and is very
vulnerable to the vagaries of the weather – cold temperatures,
scorching heat or rains.
entire country has had more than its fair share of problems with
Covid in 2020 and hoping for a much healthier and abundant 2021.
one of the unique experiences that one faces in life due to
circumstances beyond our control and which we couldn’t have imagined
just a month or so ago.
current lockdown resulted in an unexpected problem – we ran out of
packaging boxes. Our orders for new boxes with updated designs and fresh
colors had been placed with our box manufacturer like every year. He
was going to start the manufacturing and had even bought the paper
required and cut it into the appropriate sizes. But before he could
begin printing, the Covid lockdown was announced on March 23rd due to
which he could not resume printing and production. We all thought this
would go away soon, perhaps a week or so………..or at the most a
fortnight. But it dragged on and finally we had used up all the stock
left over from the 2019 season.
were in a real dilemma since the mangoes were ready and needed to be
harvested but we could not pack them in the appropriate boxes for their
protection and safe handling. A similar situation exists across the
Konkan with paper and raw material being in short supply, lack of
reliable transportation due to shortage of drivers and frequent police
checking and a real struggle for getting basic things needed to run
operations in a farm or industry. We were really at our wit’s end as to
how to get over this obstacle since letting mangoes go to waste due to
lack of packaging boxes is like pouring good whiskey down the drains due
to lack of bottles.
bright young boy who does harvesting at our farms came up with a bright
idea. If the printing was the problem, perhaps we can get plain
corrugated boxes without any branding or printing. It would not have the
unique AAMRAI branding or colours but the mangoes inside would be safe
and would reach the eager customers. We quickly inquired with our
packaging guys and they confirmed that it could be done. They quickly
started production and within two days we have plain white boxes at our
farms. We also managed to get AAMRAI stickers printed to be pasted on
the top of the boxes so that the boxes would still bear the AAMRAI mark
and brand promise.
The final result was quite satisfactory considering the last moment execution and quick thinking.
a look at the two pictures and judge for yourself. One of them is the
traditional AAMRAI box and the other is the lockdown jugaad.
So dear customers, please remember that even if you get any of these boxes at your home, please bear with us since we are all struggling through unprecedented times and the mango inside is still AAMRAI
In one of Sachin Lanjekar’s sprawling mango orchards, spread over a total of 80 acres in Ratnagiri in Maharashtra’s Konkan region, monkeys screech intermittently from trees as four men go about picking ripe fruits in baskets. As the sun sets, leopards on the prowl feast on semi-ripe mangoes that have fallen on the ground. This is peak mango harvest season, but no one comes here for days to pluck the Alphonso, proudly called the ‘King of Mangoes’ in this part of the state. In Vengurla town, some 200 km away, ripe mangoes have fallen off trees in Raman Waingankar’s orchard and are rotting. Waingankar has stopped going to the orchard to pluck the fruit because, he says, there are no buyers. The local market, otherwise packed with vendors selling Alphonso and other mango varieties, such as Payari and Rayval, is deserted. This is lockdown time. “It’s better to leave the mangoes on trees and save the packaging and transportation costs. We do not have enough labour due to the lockdown, and local authorities, too, do not allow us to step out and sell. Traders in Mumbai deny us a just price for our produce,” laments Waingankar, a third-generation mango farmer.
Over the past decade,
Maharashtra has been producing an average 550 metric tonnes of mango
annually, predominantly Alphonso and Kesar. The state has approximately
25,000 growers of the fruit. According to the National Mango Database,
the state has approximately 1.6 lakh hectares under mango cultivation,
with the Alphonso orchards concentrated in Ratnagiri and nearby Devgad
and Kesar farms in Marathwada. The Agricultural and Processed Food
Products Export Development Authority, a Union commerce and industry
ministry body, says the state’s mango yield in 2018-19 was 566 metric
tonnes and 791 metric tonnes in 2019-20.
This year, though, the
yield is expected to be far less. Vikas Patil, joint director of
agriculture, Maharashtra, estimates a 30 per cent drop in yield because
of a short winter and a wet November last year. Climatic disturbances
have indeed played a part in the gradual decline of the mango crop in
the state over the past decade. For instance, unseasonal rains last
November and December destroyed the budding mango flowers. “Mango
flowers bloom when temperatures drop, but last year, we didn’t get any
winter. So the flowering itself has been low this season,” says
Laxmikant Khobrekar, an engineer who owns a one-acre mango orchard, with
60 trees, in Malvan, some 140 km from Ratnagiri. While he estimates
this year’s losses at 50 per cent, Waingankar says his yield has crashed
to about 16 per cent. Compounding the problem is the nature of the
Alphonso tree, which usually sees fruiting every alternate year.
Konkan, March to May are busy and prosperous months for mango growers
as the high-in-demand Alphonso is lapped up by traders in Mumbai’s APMC
(Agricultural Produce Market Committee) and tourists and buyers who
visit Konkan. The first round of Alphonso hits the market in March,
selling at Rs 1,500-2,000 for a dozen. Early March this year was no
different, but prices slumped to as low as Rs 300 a dozen within less
than a fortnight as the nationwide lockdown came into effect. Amol Teli,
who owns 5,000 Alphonso trees in the villages of Devgad, says 20 per
cent of the harvest is done in March, 30 per cent in April and the
remaining in May. The first two rounds, he says, have borne the brunt of
the lockdown, which shut down large markets.
local movement, too, have affected the harvest. Lanjekar’s orchards are
spread over a radius of 50 km across villages and towns of Ratnagiri,
and the migrant labourers from Nepal who work here are unable to travel
to the farms. “Due to the lockdown restrictions in place, not more than
four people can be in public at a time together. For us, transporting
workers in jeeps in batches of four every day turns out to be very
expensive. We would rather not pluck the fruit,” he says. Eighty per
cent of Lanjekar’s harvest is pending.
Waingankar says that
contrary to popular perception, mango farming has been steadily becoming
less lucrative. The reasons include unseasonal rain, high incidence of
pests and harassment at the APMCs, where traders try to exploit growers
over rates and strikes by workers delay the offloading of mango cartons.
“We spend money to maintain the orchards round the year, but suffer
losses as mango trees are prone to catching diseases fast,” he says.
“This year, some of us are getting as little as Rs 100 per dozen
mangoes, which is not even one-fourth of the usual rate.”
growers claim that while it costs an average of Rs 70,000 to maintain an
acre of mango orchard, the income from it has plummeted to about Rs
10,000. “Earlier, our input cost would be around Rs 25,000 and the
income up to Rs 1 lakh,” says Khobrekar. Every year, a few trees develop
disease, further bringing down the yield, he adds.
exports and domestic sales hit, mango growers are staring at big losses.
Dr Ganesh Hingmire, an agri-economist based in Pune, estimates
Maharashtra’s total mango turnover to be approximately Rs 3,500 crore.
The Alphonso fruit from Konkan accounts for a lion’s share of this. The
turnover of a single taluka in Konkan’s mango belt is Rs 150-250
crore. While the harvest season will go on for another month, some
farmers are putting the total losses to mango trade due to the lockdown
at 50 per cent.
Exports to the main markets of West Asia, Japan,
UK and US have been hit by the lockdown. Bhooshan Nabar, who sends 5,000
dozens of Alphonso mangoes to the US from his 40-acre orchard in Math
village of Vengurla, says he hasn’t exported any this year.
“Approximately 900,000 dozen mangoes go from Konkan to the major markets
every day. Of the total that is sent to Mumbai’s APMC, 20 per cent is
exported. But this time, most countries of export are in lockdown,” he
Mumbai’s APMC sources almost 90 per cent of its mangoes
from Konkan. But with the market closed for several days since the
lockdown was announced, farmers have been exploring direct-to-home
marketing-taking their produce straight to the consumers. They are
getting help in this from the state agriculture department and local
politicians. Farmers collect orders of at least 100 cartons and send a
tempo-load of Alphonso mangoes to housing societies in Mumbai, Navi
Mumbai, Thane, Kolhapur, Sangli and Belgaum. “When the markets shut
down, there was nobody to buy our produce. Mangoes are highly perishable
and start ripening within five days of plucking,” says Teli.
affirm that the direct-to-home concept has somewhat helped salvage
mango farmers’ incomes. “The model is working very well for farmers
because they are getting a minimum of Rs 350 per dozen, much higher than
what traders pay. More than 1,500 cartons of five dozen mangoes each
have already been sold through this method,” says Patil.
politicians have also stepped in to help farmers forge tie-ups with
retail chains, such as Big Bazaar, and agribusiness entities like
Merakisan. On April 19, 200 dozen Alphonso mangoes went from Teli’s
Ravimangal Aamrai farm to Pune for supply to Merakisan. A few hundred
dozen go from Devgad to Big Bazaar stores in Mumbai every week.
poor winter and the lockdown have had a devastating impact on
Maharashtra’s mango cultivation, but with the direct-to-home-sale option
cutting middlemen and traders out and ensuring buyers for their
produce, several smaller farmers are already considering it their
business model for the future. “It ensures a fair price for both the
farmer and the end-customer,” says Patil.
BETTER LATE THAN NEVER is the story of 2020 so far.
March 20, 2020
It’s been a difficult year for
the King so far. After battling the extended monsoons in November, the
shortened and delayed winters in January and February, the summer is finally
arriving in the Konkan and temperatures are rising. The result of all these
dramatic climate changes has been reduced flowering in November/December and
increased vegetative growth in February/March instead of the desired flowering
and fruit formation.
The nutrients inside the mango
tree are used for both the leaves and flowering growth depending on the weather
and subsequent physiological changes inside the tree. The colder winter nights
and days are needed for the flowering and fruit setting which typically happens
in December-February. However this year that period was reduced significantly
and the temperatures never really dipped for a long period. Due to this the
nutrients were diverted for fresh vegetative growth. Though this is desirable
for the health of our organic trees and the environment in the long run, what
this would mean is a reduced yield for the coming season.
Finally from the last week,
temperatures have been rising at our farms in Ratnagiri and if this sustains,
we can hope for our first harvest in the next week or so. The good news is the
fruit quality, sizing and development is excellent though the quantum might take
At the end of the day, we are all
subject to the vagaries of nature and
have to submit to the same. Perhaps this is nature’s way of delaying the mango
crop until the Corona issue settles down…………….and we can all enjoy
the mangoes in peace…………………..
Fingers crossed for speedy
arrival of the King and departure of Corona.
Just about four days ago, I happened to
glance at news in a reputed newspaper and I was shocked.
The news is that this year, the
Alphonso mango boxes have already arrived from Konkan at the Mumbai
Market and have received a price of Rupees Twenty-One Thousand &
five hundred for each box of five dozens (Photo no. 1). Awessssome,
The date I am sitting to write this
article today is February 9, 2020. In our organic farm in Ratnagiri
District of the Konkan region, the Alphonso mango trees are just
blossoming, and hardly on a couple of those tree you may notice the
fine pea-sized mangoes appearing on a tree. No. 2-3). But there are
mango boxes that have already made it to the Mumbai-Pune market. So,
our mango garden is still three-and-a-half months behind.
As the news says, this mango, which has
reached the market, is also almost two months late. Which means, this
mango should have hit the market two months ago in December. What a
progress of science related to agriculture and of course the human
who is the inventor of this science!
And here we harvest our mangoes, grown
with organic or natural methods, on the 10th or 12th of May. And then
those take another week to be ready to be eaten, i.e on the 17-18th
of May. How shameful? So late it is? At that time, the price of the
average commercial mango box recedes to about Rs. One Thousand only.
What a drop all the way down from twenty thousand rupees to just one
thousand rupees? What a loss for commercial mango growers? Should
they too change their mango production techiques? Don’t they want
to earn thousands of rupees by growing the mango as quickly as
possible and sending those to the market much before the real season
starts? Of course, some of them must have got ‘inspired’ by reading
the news already and must be preparing to achieve the early bird
results? I am sure you hope so!
On the contrary, as per my childhood
memories (which are only from the 80’s); mangoes were to be eaten
only in the summer holidays i.e in the month of May. ‘Akshay
Tritiya’ in the end of April month was supposed to be an auspicious
occasion to have the 1st mango of the season. Then onwards in May,
the mango aroma would fill almost every house. I am not referring to
this as nostalgic memories or my love of the Marathi food culture,
etc.… I want to remind you that the real mango season was in May.
No, it still is. And exactly that’s why the mangoes in our organic
farm can be harvested only in the month of May!
Today, however, the mango has become a
‘rich’ fruit savored almost from December to January, and no more
it is just a summer fruit. Not only Ratnagiri, Devgad, but the
mangoes from across Malawi in Africa or Gujarat and Karnataka race
harder to reach the Mumbai-Pune market ASAP!
*And my dear consumer, it’s all for
Because, you can not be patient until
May to taste this delicious fruit!
Because, you would love to get this
mango all through the year!
Because, you well off to pay the price
it calls for!
Because, you don’t even know why nature
made this mango since thousands of millions of years, only in summer,
and how that works for you, your health!
Because, you do not bother to know what
the agro-science has done to get this mango to you much before the
summer, and how it affects not just you but the planet!
Read on, only if this suits you.
Otherwise, leave it here …
I know many of you may argue, “We
never eat mangoes in January when its as expensive as ten or twenty
thousand rupees, we only eat mangoes from March … that too, only
for five to six thousand per box!”
Some will even accuse us of not
accepting advancements in agricultural science, or us being jealous
of the profits earned by those mango growers or, we don’t understand
the business of farming!
Do you all really think that the
ability to grow fruits and vegetables off the natural season is an
achievement? Should it be termed as progress?
Before we find out the answer to this
question we must try to understand why did nature create the mango in
the peak of the summer. That obviously calls for the need to know
what exactly does happen in a tree before it gets ready for the
production in the summer.
You surely can not escape saying, “Why
would I want to know how you grow the mango, I only mean to eat
those. The mango growers should know all about it, not me!” Of
course, the mango growers need to know most of it but unfortunately
80% of them don’t really know anything. This is unfortunate but true.
In their views, they planted mango trees, watered them, applied ‘X’
fertilizers in ‘A’ month and applied ‘Y’ fertilizers in ‘B’
month, sprayed pesticides for pest infestation and that’s all.
That’s all they know! The increasing numbers of the greedy but
unaware consumers, the rush and pressures of the market and the
misconceptions of the society about ‘successful farming’ lead the
farmers in working blindly for the early yields.
Then the same mango gardener,
especially the Hapus mango farmer in Konkan … is worried about the
declining mango yields declining every year. He is now turning away
from growing mangoes to any other business, or replacing the orchards
with cashew plantation. While dreaming of an effortless yield
fetching Rs. 150 per kilo of cashews, little does he know that such
monoculture in near future would only bring it down to Rs. 50 per kg.
So if you don’t see the coconut, nutmeg, pineapple, jamun trees in
Konkan anymore but only cashew trees, don’t be surprised. Blame it on
the decline of the mangoes…
It is high time to think about why is
the mango production declining every year. Where and what is wrong
with our mangoes.
*So much happens in the mango tree when
it grows them*
Here in Konkan, the mango trees get the
new shoots at the end of the monsoon, ie October. In the next two to
three months, these pink coloured leaves grow to become dark green,
mature leaves. That’s when these leaves and the tree, are ready for
fresh photosynthesis. With photosynthesis, the tree receives various
elements of food and energy from the sun. And at the same time, the
roots of the tree accumulate a variety of food components from the
ground that strengthens the tree to be able to produce food again. In
order to the blossom of flowers to occur on the mango tree, the
weather requires a difference of at least 10 to 12 degrees in the day
and night temperature for 15 to 20 days; Which is usually around
December end or January. With this kind of weather, the tree begins
to blossom with flowers and sends around the fantastic fragrance. The
flowers invite different types of insects, such as bees, butterflies,
beetles, small birds, all come into contact with these flowers and
the pollination takes place in late January or early February. At
this point, the tiny mango fruits as tiny as a black pepper grain,
are formed. The next two-and-a-half-month period of February to April
is an important period for the mangoes to grow. All the food and
energy obtained so far by the tree is used to grow the fruit. With
that nourishment, the fruit grows into a raw green mango that you all
know and love. By the months of March-April, the warm rather, hot
summer days help the fruit to turn sweet. And that is all about the
heat of the months. Now, the tree produces the glucose and the
natural sugar in the fruit called ‘Fructose’ begins to saturate
in the fruits. Along with fructose, an enzyme called ‘Ethylene’
is formed inside the fruit. The ‘Ethylene’ causes another
ingredient in the fruit called ‘Pectin’ to dissolve, resulting in
the mangoes to gradually become soft and juicy. At the same time, the
visible difference in mango is that the skin color starts turning red
from the stem… initially to red and then to yellowish orange.
Wait! The Mango is still not really
The heat from the atmosphere then
causes the water content in the mango starts evaporating and the
mango skin starts getting wrinkled. The reduced water content in
proportion to the saturated fructose now, makes the mango much
By then the first week of May has
arrived! Now the mango is perfectly ready to be savored!!!
There is a phrase in Marathi language
that says “Patients always results into sweet fruits”. Isn’
Now let’s see why a fruit such as mango
which is so high with Fructose (Sugar), is created by nature only for
summer. Once we understand the reason, you would never want to eat
the mangoes except in the extreme summer. During summer, the need for
sugar and glucose increases in of human body and even in other
animals. The body also dehydrates more and faster resulting in an
increased demand for liquids and sugar for energy. Therefore, eating
such fruits during this period is the need of the season and is
absolutely sensible. Even the fruits like watermelons that consist
almost 90% of water and glucose, grow in the harsh summer and even in
the desert regions. This is an excellent example of the beautiful
system designed by nature for everyone. Wherever and whatever is
needed, providing the right solutions at the right times is the law
of nature. Is it any wise to go against the rules and eat fruits or
vegetables that that are grown off-seasons, just for the sake of our
greed and the cravings? Here’s another great example… In Konkan,
the hottest period of summer is in April and May, while in northern
Maharashtra or further north in Gujarat, it is a bit later in June.
But the same summer occurs in July and even to the middle of August,
as we move further north. And that’s why Konan gets the ‘Alphonso’
or ‘Payari’ of Konkan in May, The ‘Kesar’ variety of Northern
Maharashtra or Gujarat appears in June and mangoes like ‘Dasheri’,
‘Chausa’ are a treat in July in Uttar Pradesh. So, what would be
the point in eating those mangoes from outside of Maharashtra, while
it rains here in Maharashtra in the months of June and July? Or vise
versa? I don’t mean to say that one should not try a mango of
another region ever at all. But wanting to eat mangoes coming from
all over the country or around the world for almost 6-7 months of the
year is surely where things go wrong! As a result of our stupidity
and greed, we invite diseases like diabetes and even the serious ones
like cancer but blame the fruit for it. That is exactly what today’s
modern nutritionists and dieticians advise us to ‘Eat Seasonal and
Eat Local’. Aren’t they directly or indirectly asking us to follow
the laws of nature? Our grandparents though, never needed to be
advised these matters ever. Because then growing food was not really
a part of the industrialization of agriculture.
However today fruits like mango,
watermelon, pineapple or vegetables like radish, cauliflower and
carrot have become essential through the year. The production and
supply of these all year long against the demand of billions of
ignorant customers has become the basic necessity of the
agribusiness. There is a life-threatening competition for earning the
fastest and the maximum.
I dare calling it life-threatening as
many chemicals, hormones, are used to grow mangoes 2-3 months in
advance against nature’s rule, that result in the early flowering on
trees just after the monsoon. Since these early but untimely flowers
are more prone to the attack of pests, fungi, other diseases;
spraying multiple rounds of fungicides and pesticides on them becomes
a must till the mangoes are harvested (Photo no. 2). Importantly, the
heat of the summer that activates the for natural sweetness and
fructose saturation is missing completely during the off season
growth. In the haste of harvesting early the mangoes are not ready
with the sugar and ethylene preparation within them. So obviously the
artificial ethylene needs to be used to ripen them faster. What would
it be like to spend thousands of rupees for eating such a bland and
unhealthy mango when your body does not even need it? Can’t you
link all this to the health issues like early puberty, PCOD, Ulcer or
even Cancer amongst the new and young generation?
The Mango growing community too, should
note that all of this is closely related to their concern of the
declining yields every year. With the constant and overuse of these
chemicals, the trees are behaving like addict humans. Their need for
the chemicals is only increasing every year. It is destroying the
ecosystem inclusive of the micro and macro organisms of the soil in
and around the orchards. The insects responsible for pollination are
fleeing away dying due to the pesticides. All of it in totality is
contributing to the downfall of the mango quality and the yield. Do
you get it now?
I am sure everyone noticed the price of
the mango box mentioned in the news. The amount of Rs. 21,500/- must
have caught the attention of all the desperately waiting mango
consumers, and even a lot of Mango Farmers. The important words that
must have escaped the eyes are, ‘Due to changing weather’ …
The reason for this changing climate is
the ‘haste’ the ‘RUSH’ … ‘We want it today, now’!
With all the due respect to your
spending capacities, I request you to pay respect to your own money.
Please do not ‘WASTE’ it on such ‘HASTE’. Wait a little,
think carefully. Otherwise, the HASTE will WASTE everything!
And if you like these thoughts, go
ahead; share it with the name and other details given below.
first picture shows a solo alphonso on a branch, like an single
child. It will receive all the nourishment from the mother tree via
the branch and hence it will have the best chance of growing to its
other three images show mangoes which are like siblings, in a way
they will be competing for the same source of nourishment. In this
case the fruit which is first is closest to the main mother tree or
first in line will receive the lion’s share of the nutrients and
hence will have the best chance of growing larger. Very often the
later fruit wont even survive till maturity and will fall off due to
lack of food.
farmers engage in a practice of removing the weaker fruit, hence
allowing the other fruit to grow larger in size and have the best
chance of survival.
this is Darwin’s theory in play in a mango orchard – Survival of the
mildew is one of the most serious fungal diseases of mangoes. The
characteristic visual symptom is the white superficial powdery fungal
growth on leaves, stalks, flowers and young fruits. The affected
flowers and fruits drop prematurely considerably reducing the cop
load or preventing fruit setting.
rains or mists or heavy dew fall accompanied by cooler nights during
flowering our ideal conditions for the disease spread. Hence this is
more prevalent in the earlier part of the season before the summer
heat sets in. As the temperature at the farms rises after April end
or early May, this problem is not seen.
organic treatments that we use at our farms are neem oil and garlic
powder/juice spraying in winter. Constant vigilance of the mango
trees and immediate removal of leaves/flowers affected by fungus
helps to control its growth and spread.
of the predominant post harvest problems faced in mangoes is sap
injury. The mango fruit has an extensive system of ducts or lactifers
in both fruit and stem. Mango sap (latex) sap which is highly acidic
in nature is contained within the ducts. In the mature fruit, the sap
is under considerable pressure and when the fruit is separated from
the stem at the harvest time via an incision, the sap spurts out.
This sap is frequently deposited on the surface of the fruits causing
browning or blackening of the peel in region of contact with the sap.
sap injury reduces customer acceptance of the fruit even though the
mango is perfectly fine and the blemishes are only superficial. The
mango connoisseur should be aware that the mango with a sap
burn mark is perfectly edible fruit and should not be discriminated.
What’s more, even though the physiological role of the mango sap is
not exactly know, it probably has a defensive role against disease
causing microorganisms and insect pests. Hence the latex is sap like
the mango’s natural acid spray for self defense.
are practicing desapping of the mangoes immediately after
harvest to reduce such incidences. However it will not be possible to
completely eliminate this phenomenon while using natural organic
An article on AAMRAI Organic in Pure & Eco India, Organic Magazine which was launched at BioFach 2019, Nuremburg, Germany, The largest organic exhibition in the world was held from 13-16th February 2019 and was well attended and showcased the growing global demand for organic products.