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Mango might lose its sweetness due to climate impact
Tuesday, 28 March, 2023, 14 : 00 PM [IST]
Ushik Gala
The King of Fruits - Mango, is facing a royal threat from the changing weather patterns and increasing temperatures due to climate change. As the largest producer of mangoes in the world, India is feeling the heat of this threat.

The quality and quantity of mango production are being affected by the inconsistency in weather patterns, leading to a decrease in the sweetness and overall quality of the fruit.

India is responsible for over 40% of global mango production, with other countries such as China, Thailand, Mexico, Indonesia, Pakistan, Brazil, Bangladesh, Nigeria, and the Philippines contributing significantly as well. Mango production in India alone averaged around 23.09 million tonnes (MT), annually, making it a significant contributor to the country's agricultural sector.

However, last year, due to various climate-related factors, the production was a bit low, standing at 21 MT. Unfortunately, the situation seems to be similar this year, and we might see a delay in the arrival of mangoes from Gujarat and Maharashtra, two of the biggest mango-producing states in India, to start with.

The changing climate has affected the taste of mangoes, making them less sweet and more sour. This might lead to a decrease in demand for Indian mangoes in the global market, affecting the country's export market. In the fiscal year 2022, the volume of mangoes exported from India accounted for approximately 28 thousand metric tons.

Although there was an increase from about 21 thousand metric tons in the previous fiscal year, the inconsistency in supply this year might lead to a decline in exports. However, the export of mango pulp might see an upswing, compensating for the decline in fresh mango exports.

The major mango-producing states in India are Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, and Karnataka. Uttar Pradesh is the largest mango-producing state in India, catering to 21% market share, with most of it used for table purposes.

The processed mango varieties are produced mostly in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Gujarat. The most popular varieties of mangoes produced in India are Alphonso, Kesar, Totapuri, Chaunsa, and Dasheri. Mangoes are an important crop for India, both for domestic consumption as well as for export. India exports mangoes to countries like United States, United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Nepal.

The effects of climate change on the quality and quantity of mango production in India can be attributed to various factors. The higher temperature differential during the flowering season in December has led to a decrease in the number of mango flowers, which results in fewer mangoes produced.

The untimely rain during pre-harvest in February has led to the rotting of mangoes, reducing the overall quality of the fruit. Higher than expected temperatures during harvesting from March to May has led to premature ripening, affecting the sweetness and taste of the mangoes.

However, there is hope. By adopting sustainable farming practices and promoting research and development, we can improve the resilience of mangoes to climate change. The government and various stakeholders in the mango value chain must come together to develop and implement strategies that can mitigate the impact of climate change on mango production. Sustainable practices such as reducing water usage, increasing the use of organic fertilizers, and promoting agroforestry can help to increase the resilience of mangoes to climate change.

Mangoes are not just a fruit; they are a cultural symbol of India, enjoyed by people around the world. Imagine a world without the juicy sweetness of Indian mangoes. By taking action now, we can ensure that future generations can continue to savour the sweet taste of this King of Fruits.

(The author is chairman & managing director at Suumaya Industries Ltd)
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