LAHORE: The country’s mango production will considerably drop this year, as the climate change factor has badly affected a majority of fruit farms and orchards, lowering the yield especially in southern parts of Punjab.
Since Pakistan’s last year mango production was reported to be 1.7 million ton with two-third and one-third share of Punjab and Sindh respectively, growers and experts believe this year’s yield will be even less than the average production. However, the situation, according to them, is not bad in Sindh reportedly.
“The last year’s yield was very encouraging in mango clusters of Punjab, comprising the districts of Khanewal (mainly Kabirwala tehsil), Multan and its Shujabad tehsil, Muzaffargarh and Rahim Yar Khan. But this year, the situation is somewhat bleak, as the climate change has hit the mango belt,” said Syed Fakhar Imam, former National Assembly speaker and a Multan-based progressive farmer.
“But the situation in Sindh is different. Punjab is the main affectee of climate change that hit the mango,” he said.
Mr Imam was of the view that this time the [inappropriate] weather hit the fruit formation mainly.
Punjab is also a major producer and exporter of three main mango varieties—Sindhri, seasonal Chaunsa (formerly known as SamarBehisht/fruit of the heaven) and white Chaunsa (late variety). Since seven percent of the total production is exported each year, some quantity of other varieties —Anwar Ratol and Dosehri—is also exported to various countries, especially Dubai.“The horticulturists and pomologists should find out reasons [for low yield] other than the climate change. They must get last six months’ data related to climate, temperature, cold, rainfall, dust storms, humidity, irrigation, use of pesticides etc. And after finding all the reasons, they should make recommendations as to how farmers can maintain good yield,” he said.
Imam expressed dissatisfaction with those deputed to research on such issues. “I wonder, what they have been doing despite witnessing [climatic] changes. They should have done something for the farmers in advance,” he said.
Commenting on the situation, Pakistan Kissan Ittehad Chairman Khalid Khokhar said mango exports would badly come down. “It is possible that Pakistan may not be able to export mango this year, as the yield has reduced to 50pc on an average.”
He said this year March surprisingly turned to be cold like January or February. And later the dust storms and sudden increase in temperature affected the fruit.
“Farmers are worried, as they will hardly be able to recover cost,” he feared.
Published in Dawn, May 09th, 2017