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Dharwad to Lose its ‘Alphonso Capital of Karnataka’ Tag as Mango Farmers Look for Alternatives

Every year, the 'King of Fruits' would arrive in the market around the second week of April, but there will be a 45- to 50-day delay this year.

Binita Kumari

The area planted with Alphonso mangos has decreased from 25,000 hectares in 2017 to 8,890 hectares this year, implying that Dharwad may soon lose its status as the "Alphonso capital of Karnataka."

The Alphonso variety accounts for nearly all mangoes grown in the Dharwad area (locally called Hapus or Ampus). Surprisingly, mango is Dharwad's flagship produce under the Prime Minister's Formalisation of Micro Food Processing Enterprises' 'One District, One Product' scheme (PMFME). In 2017, the area under cultivation began to drop.

Mango growers have been forced to look for alternatives due to a sharp drop in yield (some years the yield plummeted by 80%), harsh weather events, and shifting market prices, and as a result, guava, areca nut, cashew nut, and banana cultivation is growing up in what were formerly mango orchards. The processing industry does not prefer this table fruit known as the "king of mangoes."

Two years ago, the district received a yield of 1.37 lakh tonnes. The harvest, according to Horticulture Department officials, will not exceed 60,000 tonnes this year.

Alphonso, which is primarily grown in Dharwad and sections of Karnataka's Belagavi region, has high export potential. This is sold in Europe, the United States, Australia, and a few Asian countries.

Heavy rains in November and December, according to Dr. Kashinath Bhadrannavar, Deputy Director of the Horticulture Department, delayed flowering. Increases in temperature during the fruit setting stage have a negative effect on yield. As a result, the yield for this season has plummeted. Every year around the second week of April, the 'King of Fruits' would come to the market, but this year's arrival will be 45 to 50 days later.

When the production is good, the farmer should be able to get a maximum of six tonnes of fruit per hectare. However, the yield this season is less than two tonnes per hectare. Devendra Jainar, a mango grower from Kelgeri in Dharwad, said that both farmers and those who have leased the trees for harvesting are affected.

According to Basavaraj Hiremath, who owns a mango grove in Amblikoppa, red soil is excellent for cashew cultivation, and hence the agricultural pattern has shifted. Mango lovers are feeling the pinch as well. Two dozen mangoes cost Rs 900 in the Dharwad market last year, whereas a dozen costs Rs 1,100 this year.

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