Mango vendors wait for customers in the Barakahu area of Islamabad in a file photo. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Muzaffargarh: Mangoes might be the sweetest summer fruit, but the story doing the rounds in news media about the harvest this year is sore to the core.

A 50% likely drop in mango production this year due to the effects of climate change and high temperatures has not only hit the growers but also the fruit lovers. The average production of mango in Pakistan is 1.8 million tonnes and it is likely to be limited to 0.9 million tonnes.

The Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Exporters Association (PFVA) has curtailed its export target by 25,000 tonnes compared to last year in view of the declining production during this season and has set an export target of 125,000 tonnes for the current season which will fetch Pakistan valuable foreign exchange of $106 million.

So, as a consumer, if you are worried over the low production resulting in a price hike and nonavailability of the king of fruits in the market this year you are not alone. Growers and exporters are equally upset. To dig deeper and have a clear picture of the situation in the wake of drastic drop in production, APP spoke to all stakeholders including mango orchid owners, traders, and exporters.

Jam Murad is a well-reputed mango grower of Basti Habib in Muzaffargarh district known for its harvesting of king of fruits where every resident owns a mango orchid. Murad narrated the ordeal of mango growers and the adverse impact of climate change on the produce this year: “We could see it coming. The mango plants need a temperature of around 35 degrees when it’s time to bear fruit. Due to the early onset of intense summer the trees bore 50 per cent less flowering than usual. It happened not only in Muzaffargarh, Multan, Rahim Yar Khan but we have heard similar stories from as far as Sindh.”

Jam Murad is not the only grower who had to bear the brunt of sudden changes in weather patterns. He is just one of the many growers who have less than 25 acres of land. And mango is not the only fruit which has suffered a drop in production as according to Waheed Ahmed, head of PFVA, there are others too which include green vegetables and Kinow.

Wheat crop, too

Waheed feared that the wheat crop was also likely to be affected by these sudden changes in weather conditions. “Due to climate change, shortage of electricity and diesel, increase in cost of packaging, processing and high freight charges, exporters as well as mango growers have to face a crisis during the current mango season.During the current mango season, the mid of March witnessed average temperature between 37-42 degree Celsius the average temperature during the previous season was recorded as 34 Celsius. The sudden rise in temperature has severely damaged mango production while irrigation problems, water shortage due to blockage of canals, power load shedding and shortage of diesel during the season have further deepened the climatic effects,” Waheed Ahmed said.

Moreover, the stakeholders have expressed their concern over reduction of 30 per cent funds in the current fiscal budget to combat tough challenges of climate change. Some observers and analysts believe that the situation can be improved only by imposing ‘agricultural emergency’ and preparing a long-term policy for the sector as a whole instead of doling out subsidy schemes.

Summer in our part of land brings with it a vibrant culture when people frequently throw mango parties for their friends and relatives. But in the backdrop of dip in production this summer may not be as festive as it was last year.