Mango crop in Mirpurkhas ruining for want of labour force, say growers

Updated 25 May 2020

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WORKERS pack mangoes in wooden boxes at a warehouse in Mirpurkhas.—Dawn
WORKERS pack mangoes in wooden boxes at a warehouse in Mirpurkhas.—Dawn

MIRPURKHAS: The mango crop in Mirpurkhas district, which produces the pricey Sindhri as well as certain other varieties, is facing a serious threat due to unavailability of properly trained and experienced labourers, according to owners of orchards.

Speaking to local reporters here on Saturday, agriculturists Imam Deen, Mohammad Ismail, Maqsood Rajput, Khalid Arain and others who own fruit orchards in this district said that the mango crop had fully matured and the fruit had to be plucked without any further delay to avoid a total loss of the crop. However, they apprehended, the required labour force was not available due to the prolonged lockdown across the country. They said labourers from other parts of Sindh could not make it due to a total closure of road and rail traffic over the past couple of months.

They said they were expecting the lockdown to be relaxed in the early days of May but it did not happen.

They explained that mango plucking was a “typical” job and had to be undertaken with special care to avoid damage to the fruit. They said the expert labour was not available within Mirpurkhas district in an adequate number. They said usually such labour mostly came from Punjab, though the number was partly shared by those coming from some other districts of Sindh.

“At present, we are facing an acute shortage of labourers to undertake the job,” the agriculturists said, and apprehended that this handicap might ruin the crop at large.

They said that the plucking work had already hit a delay of 10 days and there were no signs of expert labour making it in the next couple of weeks.

They pointed out that they had already made complete arrangements for the packing and transportation of the crop but all their efforts seemed to be going down the drain.

In reply to a question, they said mango varieties from Mirpurkhas in a very short quantum would be available in local markets and those of Karachi after Eidul Fitr.

However, they added, mango growers were very likely to suffer a heavy loss of the crop due to unavailability of trained labour this season.

Published in Dawn, May 24th, 2020