HYDERABAD: This year’s crop of sindhri — top of the line among all mango varieties — is faced with multiple issues ranging from pest attacks to climatic conditions, which didn’t go down well with the growers.
The crop’s average yields per acre are likely to be hit this year. Sindhri’s harvesting, which started in June, is now in full swing to be followed by harvesting of other varieties, including the equally famous chaunsa.
Shah Mohammad Talpur, a young mango producer, notes that this year’s sindhri production has been a tricky affair. He faced a host of issues while dealing with his crop. As if it was not enough, mango-laden trees were hit by the cleaning process of a gas well established by a public sector exploration company in his land.
He lets out his orchard to a contractor at fruit production stage as is practice in vogue in Sindh. He owns a conventional mango orchard that has older trees with larger canopies, although the concept of high-density farming was being talked about.
Growers turn to high-density farming to boost production
In this modern concept, more trees are grown with less space between them and shorter canopies. A high density farm usually has 1,000 trees or so on an acre.
“Fruit is hit by hopper and malformation this year. It has a direct bearing on sindhri, although yields are by and large good. We had expected a little more in view of fruiting and flowering seen early this year,” Talpur says.
He recalls he didn’t see batoor, a Sindhi word for fungal-driven malformation, in orchard during his life at that huge scale. He, however, didn’t lose hope to have reasonable income this year.
“Thanks God, I am better off with decent harvest apparently as harvesting is yet to be over,” he remarks. He and his family cumulatively manage mango orchard on around 500 acres in Hyderabad’s rural taluka. He aims to diversify his farming instead of clinging to mango orchards alone.
Lower Sindh, home to mango production, had decent flowering and fruit setting around the February-March period, but then came multiple fungal and pest attacks on the crop.
By early June several exporters reach Sindh’s farms to buy mangoes. Aqeel Abbas, an exporter from Punjab, doesn’t find this year’s fruit’s shape to be proper and “overripe” as well.
He procured a consignment for Iran from Talpur’s farm. According to him, expenses have increased manifold.
Mango production, growers like Mahmood Nawaz Shah believe, is affected by hopper and thrips.
Taha Memon, another grower from Tando Allahyar, says hopper damaged fruit, its size and quality on a big scale. “Then came thunder and hailstorm only to make matters worse for these producers,” he explains.
According to Ghulam Sarwar Abro, a progressive mango orchard owner, farms located between Tando Allahyar and Matiari districts remain largely safe from storms.
Nawaz Shah feels a high-density orchard looks good from some aspects. This year, he is set to make first harvest in a high-density farm, but simultaneously anticipating less production due to strong vegetative growth that led to less fruit setting in trees.
Talpur, on the other hand, also shows inclination to learn about of a high-density orchard.
While having grappled with rough climatic conditions at farm, he faces another dilemma — damages to close to a dozen mango-laden trees due to gas well cleaning exercise by OGDC. The company is recovering gas from his land acquired on a rental basis.
A visit to his farmland reveals strong flames of gas and smoke had blackened nearby trees and fruits. He aims to claim damages from OGDC which he believes didn’t prefer environmental safeguards during the cleaning process.
Published in Dawn, June 19th, 2023