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ISLAMABAD: Climate change, severe water shortage, unavailability of fertilizers, and the early arrival of summer mean the country’s mango output is likely to reduce by 30 percent as orchards in major mango producing districts have severely been hit.

According to officials and the farmers of major mango producing areas of Multan, Muzaffargarh, Vehari, Khanewal, and adjoining areas, the adverse effects of climate change, expensive labour, and fertilizer shortage have created a serious crisis for the orchard owners and the people associated with the mango business as this year production has significantly declined.

According to mango growers and agriculture officials, in addition to water scarcity, the high temperatures in early March also brought negative impacts on the crop as a result, the biological cycle of the mango production was disturbed. When the fruits start developing in the month of April, the crop faced extreme windstorms which also caused production losses of around five percent.

According to Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC) Chairman Dr Ghulam Ali, the early arrival of summer did not allow the crop to get the required time for the process of fruiting. He said that not only mango production is facing negative impacts of climate change this year but also other crops such as cotton, maize, sugarcane, and fodder production will also be disturbed owning to the heatwave and water shortages. He said that the livestock in the country too faces serious implications of water shortage and heatwave.

“Pakistan is one of the most-affected countries due to climate change and we have witnessed that temperatures were extraordinarily high in the months of March and April this year. We need to work on climate change mitigation, the establishment of water reservoirs and the development of heat- and drought-resistant crops in Pakistan,” Dr Ali said.

Eatsham Mughal, a Multan-based mango grower talking to this correspondent said that South Punjab was the biggest mango growing area in the country but this year mango production has been severely hit as the duration of the spring season this year has extremely short and the summer started earlier.

Hassan Siddiqui, a mango grower from Mirpurkhas District, Sindh said that like other parts of the mango growing areas of the country, Sindh also faced the same situation, where extremely high temperature, less irrigation water and high-velocity winds damaged the production of mangoes. Experts and growers said that a shortage of 30 percent in the production of Sindhri variety of mangoes was feared this year.

According to an official of the Ministry of National Food Security and Research, the country last year produced around 1.7 to 1.8 million tons of mango, but this year, he said that mango production in the country might face a 30 percent reduction.

Farmers have urged the government to operationalize the closed canals immediately, especially in the districts of Multan, Muzaffargarh, Layyah and Bahawalpur, severe water shortage and drought should be stopped immediately.

Mohammad Rafi, a mongo grower from district Vehari said that there is a dire need of introducing modern techniques for producing mangoes in the country which could double per acre produce within five years from current 1.7-1.8 million tons to around 3.5 million tons. He said high input cost, especially fertilizers, pesticides, electricity bills and climate changes are the main reasons behind low production. He added that if the government was ensuring availability of cheap inputs the average grower can increase per hectare production from 12 tons to 22-25 tons by focusing on modern orchard management practices.

He said that production, quality, shape and size of mangoes could be improved, adding potassium was costly fertilizers and the growers ignored its application which resulted into low production. Most of the growers even did not know about proper timing for irrigation for mango orchards, he lamented.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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