Growers have been unable to send their produce to the hub in the neighbouring State
A major fruit processing hub in Karnataka, considered the largest of its kind in Asia, has fallen silent this year thanks to the COVID-19 lockdown. Mango growers in Chittoor district are now worried that they might incur steep losses.
The Srinivaspur mango market, considered the mango capital of Karnataka, handles close to two lakh tonnes of produce every season. Over 60 varieties of the fruit are also distributed from here to several parts of the country. Mango growers from Punganur, Ramasamudram, Piler, Somala, and Chowdepalle mandals send their produce every year to this market as there are no fruit pulp/juice processing units in north-western Chittoor district.
However, the lockdown imposed in the neighbouring State to curb COVID-19 has had a drastic impact on the sector, with goods carriers staying off the roads. Many farmers also decided against harvesting the ripe fruit in view of the low prices.
The price of Totapuri mangoes in mandis is ₹7 a kg, but when delivered to factories, farmers get ₹9 a kg. In fact, this is ₹1 less than the price prevailing two weeks ago.
“Compared to the mandis, the factories are offering a much better price for the load delivered at our gate,” said P. Somasekhar, Senior Officer (Purchases) at Galla Foods, having a base in Puthalapattu mandal. With Collector M. Hari Narayanan already advising farmers to adopt a wait-and-watch policy and not resort to panic selling, the farmers were keeping their fingers crossed for the latest Unlock guidelines coming into force from Monday.
There is palpable desperation among orchard owners as the ripe fruits are starting to wither.
The only silver lining is the projection of industry experts, who expect the situation to improve in four to five days with the resumption of inter-State transportation, which may send the price of mangoes northward.