Seasonal fruit mango in West Bengal sinks deep under lockdown crisis

SILIGURU: Corona lockdown has put entire mango trade in West Bengal deep under uncertainty. The debacle is bound to cause severe economic crisis in the Mango zone of the state. West Bengal is one of the largest contributors to India’s national mango output that constitutes around 40% of global yield.

“The item is highly seasonal and perishable. So it needs very high pitch activity during March to June right from the orchard level to the last tire of its domestic as well as international trade. Large scale preservation facility is also absent here. All these put together has made the situation unbearable,” said Ujjal Saha, President Malda Mango Marchant’s Association .

As per record, India produces around 22 million ton (mt) of Mango annually. In it, with around 2 mt output, West Bengal is one of the largest contributing states. Incidentally all the mango producing zones in West Bengal like districts of Malda, Murshidabad or South 24 Parganas are industrially backward. Eventually, dependency of people there on this highly perishable fruit is too high.

In addition to over 50,000 mango growers at orchard level, additional around 2.5 lakh heads are dependent on the fruit at different sectors. “I need at least 25 heads of workers every day to spray medicine in the trees to save the ripening fruit. But now the fruits and trees all are there without a single drop of medicine,” said Shaukat Ali, a small orchard owner who will have to digest loss of minimum half of his expected production.

“Beside orchard management, acute shortage of manpower has completely stalled preparedness for post harvest exercises like preparation of cleaning or sorting facility, packaging, transportation etc.” said Jiban Das, a large scale mango trader.

In addition to all these, “We are absolutely uncertain on how the ripe fruit market will behave after lockdown. Naturally fate of the final harvest, whatever comes, is also deep under cloud,” said Saha.

“All put together things are going to cause a severe adverse impact on overall socio-economic scenario of the region,” Saha added.

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