INDIA 2016 : Gales leave behind a trail of destruction in mango groves

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Vijayawada: Mango growers in Andhra Pradesh have faced the double whammy of poor yields and market slump due to the ban on usage of calcium carbide. 

Compounding their problems, heavy rain and gales caused extensive damage in mango groves across the state. 

Farmers were hoping that their yield would help them recover from heavy losses. 

As it is, there has been a drastic fall in the production of the 'king of fruits' this season as only 50 percent of the groves in AP have flowered so far. 

Thanks to the strong winds on Thursday and Friday, a further decline in yield is certain. 

"Despite slashing 60 percent of my produce in April, I was reasonably confident about the remaining trees which flowered late this year. Now, almost all the mangoes which would have matured and become ready for consumption in two-three weeks are rotting on the ground," rued Nuzvid resident K Nageswara Rao.

 A large section of farmers are planning to abandon mango cultivation mainly because they are fed up with the vagaries of nature. 

N Ramanjaneyulu told TOI that he spent about Rs 50,000 on his three-acre plot in Agirapalli. However, his efforts were all in vain. "An alternative crop is the only way out. I have been into mango cultivation for nearly two decades and this year is the worst. Summer showers are common but the recent gales spelled doom for us," he said. 

Even as farmers pray for the weather to remain stable, the Indian Meteorological Department's centre at Hyderabad issued a heavy rainfall warning till Sunday.

"A few bunches of mangoes withstood the strong winds. If the days are sunny for two weeks, they'll be ready for consumption. I hope the Gods will be merciful," said a farmer from Tiruvur.

 Peasant leaders have already demanded adequate compensation. "The state government should come to the aid of farmers. Mango growers were affected the most by the gales. We are still assessing the magnitude of the damage. The government should pay a compensation of Rs 50,000 per acre to all the farmers," said KVV Prasad, general secretary of Andhra Pradesh Ryotu Sangham. 

According to APRS president P Ramachandraiah, mirchi, maize, corn and paddy crop in West Godavari, East Godavari, Krishna, Prakasam, Nellore, Cuddapah, Anantapur and Vizianagaram districts have been impacted too. "For these crops, a compensation of Rs 25,000 per acre should be paid," he emphasised.