LAHORE: The country might suffer up to 20 per cent loss to mango crop because of cooler March, which hit fruit setting, and dusty winds during the same month that led to fruit shedding in Sindh and south Punjab.
According to field reports, March had been unusually cool, which affected the fruit setting in the mango belt, especially Sindh, where the loss could go up to 35pc.
The Punjab remained relatively safe, but could lose up to 15pc of the fruit.
The exporters say that the loss would not hit the exports. This year, the exports might increase to some extent, especially to the Gulf region, because of the holy month of Ramadan falling right in the middle of export season.
“Historically, Punjab produces 1.3 million tonnes of mango,” says an official of the Agriculture Department. This year, the figure might drop to anywhere between 1m tonnes and 1.1m tonnes.
Reports from Sindh suggest that out of total production of over 400,000 tonnes, it might come down to 300,000 tonnes, though some farmers put the loss even higher.
But, Sindh has also seen fruit size increasing, which might compensate for loss. The fruit has survived earlier scare of warm December and January leading to flowering and later very cold second half of January leading to wilting of flowering.
The trees recovered and bore normal fruit, except for area where micro climate tested individual orchards, he said.
Exporter Saadat Ijaz Qureshi claimed that whatever the local production figure might be, the exports would remain unaffected. “The country’s exports are around 80,000 tonnes of mangoes, which form four to five per cent of the total production. It would remain unaffected. Rather, it may increase because of the Ramazan factor. The holy month is starting in the first week of June in the Gulf region, where mango would be in high demand. This may add around 10,000 tonnes to the tally,” he hoped.
Raheel Abbas of the Pakistan Horticulture Development and Export Company (PHDEC) hopes that the export figure might actually touch 100,000 tonnes this year. “Pakistan used to export over 100,000 tonnes before falling down to 70,000 to 80,000 tonnes. This year, it’s exports might go above 100,000 tonnes despite some production loss,” he maintained.