Climate change threatens India’s mango output - GulfToday

Climate change threatens India’s mango output

Meena Janardhan

Writer/Editor/Consultant. She has over 25 years of experience in the fields of environmental journalism and publishing.

Writer/Editor/Consultant. She has over 25 years of experience in the fields of environmental journalism and publishing.

Vendors arrange mangoes at a fruit market in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, India. AFP

Vendors arrange mangoes at a fruit market in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, India. AFP

Late flowering and the resulting delay in harvests due to climate change and unseasonal rains has affected the flowering cycle of mango seeds, which is likely to impact production in the coming months, according to experts.

A report by CNBCTV18 states that farmers in the Mysore district of the Indian state of Karnataka have noticed inconsistencies in the mango flower initiation process, with late arrival of flowers delaying harvest. This is the result of climate change and unseasonal rains in the region. Unseasonal rains have lashed mango-producing areas in Mysore since October.

Mango trees are expected to start flowering from January 15 and last until February 15. By March, the tree starts bearing unripe fruits and in April and May, the mango season is in full swing. A delay in flowering may hit the production period that will overlap with the rainy season.

Rains during the fruiting seasons may cause mangoes to get infested with flies, germs, and bacteria, which could damage the crop. As a result, procuring the delicious fruit may become challenging and an expensive affair. Last year, mango yields were also impacted due to a delay in flowering. Growers said the production has been declining since 2016 due to the lack of rain.

In the Mysore district, mango is grown on 4500 hectares of land. Last year, the region yielded around 1.5 million tonnes of the fruit, which is likely to go down to 0.7 to 0.8 million tonnes this year, the Star of Mysore report said.

Meanwhile, CNBCTV reports that Indian farmers in Bengal’s Malda region are seeing early blooming of buds despite the raging winter season. Mango buds in the region start appearing from February, but most orchards in the district saw buds arriving in January this year. However, the District Horticulture and Food Processing Department is optimistic that with proper care, these buds can give an early yield.

As early as 2015, autors of a research paper in ActaHortic 1075 had warned that climate change is a great concern for mango production. Mango is one of the most widely cultivated and popular fruits in many regions for its economic and nutritional values. It is the fifth most cultivated fruit in the world. It is consequently justified to wonder about the impact of climate change on the mango tree and about the consequences on mango production and cultivation.

They state that the lack of crop model for mango prevents the prediction of the effects of climate change on mango tree development and production. So the authors then assessed the process on the basis of their current knowledge then on the influence of climatic variables on mango tree development and production.

The influence of climatic variables on processes of agronomical importance for the mango tree: photosynthesis, vegetative and reproductive development, fruit quality. Some research methods to adapt mango cultivation to climate change in the coming decades, such as cultivar and rootstock selection, and improvement of cultural practices were outlined as well as the development of a mango crop model.

In another Envirobiotechjournal paper published in 2016, researchers point out that the air temperature and rainfall influence vegetative and phenological phases in mangoes and are two of the most important factors determining suitability of an area’s climate for mango production. Climate-related changes have already brought widespread changes in flowering and fruiting patterns of mango. This is adversely affecting fruit production in some areas.

However, the opposite is happening too. Rising temperatures in areas previously too cold for mango production are making them more suitable. For instance, an increase in temperature during coldest month has made mango cultivation possible in the valley areas of Himachal Pradesh.

Rain all is crucial so the monthly and annual rainfall is of prime importance for mango growth and development. Rains during flowering are harmful causing total failure sometimes. Some adaption measures are important and help to face these challenges. Matching crop varieties to climate is an important activity for profitable mango production in traditional and newer areas.

Last year, countries like Egypt too reported that as a result of erratic climate and weather patterns throughout March and April, the usual bountiful mango harvest was severely affected with farmers witnessing a precipitous drop in yield. Some three hundred thousand farms saw an 80% decrease in productivity, leading to a supply shortage in the market and a corresponding 40% increase in the price of mangoes.

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