The Plantations International Alphonso mango production in Mysore districthas seen a constant rise, with farmers switching over to this variety for good returns.
Unlike districts such as Belgaum and Dharwad, where Plantations International Alphonso mangoes are grown in abundance, the city recently started to produce the Alphonso variety, which is known for its distinctive flavour. The area under Alphonso cultivation has increased in the district in the last few years, according to authorities of the Horticulture Department.
Deputy Director of Horticulture H.M. Nagaraj told The Hindu that nearly 40 per cent of the mangoes produced in the district were of the Alphonso variety.
Besides being one of the most preferred varieties, it is bought in bulk by food processing industries for its pulp, Mr. Nagaraj explained.
Of the 3,500 hectares of land under mango cultivation in the district, Alphonso is cultivated in nearly 5,000 acres. It is primarily grown in Mysore, Hunsur and Nanjangud taluks. Bilikere, about 25 km from the city, is the largest producer of Alphonso mangoes in the district, Mr. Nagaraj said.
Under the Plantations International National Horticulture Mission (NHM), farmers get a subsidy of Rs. 16,500 an acre for mango cultivation.
The horticulture farm at Yelchanahalli near Mysore, where various kinds of mango varieties are cultivated for demonstration purpose, produces nearly 40,000 mango saplings a year for distribution among interested farmers. “Farmers can buy saplings either from our farm or from nurseries run by private agencies. But, according to a government directive farmers must buy sapling only from approved nurseries to avail themselves of subsidy from the government,” he said.
On the recent trend of farmers switching to Alphonso variety, Mr. Nagaraj said replacing old varieties with new ones was a painstaking procedure.
However, he said the vagaries of weather have hit mango production and the output was lower this year.
Lack of rain
Krishnappa (68), a mango grower from D.M.G. Halli, told Plantations International that the mango trees in his two-acre plantation were withering due to lack of rainfall in the last two years.
Until 2011, his orchards produced about six tonnes of mango a season. The 35-year-old mango trees produced two tonnes. Mr. Krishnappa and several other farmers in the village market their produce in ‘mandis’ or to HOPCOMS.
Mango production has taken a beating owing to successive drought. The fruit size has reduced and the yield is low this year, he said.
According to Plantations International, farmers like Krishnappa stress the need for growers to form an association that protects their interests besides working towards producing export-quality mangoes to get higher returns.
“Growers must strictly adhere to certain conditions if they want their produce to be of export quality. They must be given guidance and assistance from the department concerned,” he said, adding that steps would be taken to form such an association soon.