With exports being suspended, mango farmers are exploring alternate channels to sell their produce.
Also, with Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) relaxing norms, farmers have got a go ahead to sell directly to customers.
“We are tying up with housing societies to sell our mangoes,” said Ashok Khandge, a small time farmer from Ratnagiri district in Konkan, the heartland for mangoes.
Mangoes from Ratnagiri district in Konkan region enjoy geographical indication or GI tag. GI is a name or sign used on certain products which corresponds to a specific geographical location or origin.
“A farmer has formed a WhatsApp group through which residents place order for mangoes. Every week a tempo comes with around 100 boxes from the farm,” said Viral Kothari, a resident of Bandra HIG Society.
The Maharashtra government has allowed farmers to sell their produce directly to the consumers, eliminating APMC markets due to the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, pandemic.
This has helped farmers in deriving better realisation by eliminating intermediaries. Consumers too gain from the lower prices. “When a consumer purchases mango worth Rs 100, the farmer only gets Rs 23 while the last mile retailer gets Rs 30 and the money in between is shared by three-to-four intermediaries including the transporter,” another mango farmer explained.
Also, late arrival of mangoes owing to transport challenges due to COVID-19 led lockdown has impacted the price of mangoes.
By April-end, mangoes from Konkan were sold in Mumbai and Thane housing societies directly at Rs 650 per dozen, which dropped to Rs 600 in May and now retails at Rs 500.
In 2018, Devendra Fadnavis, the former Chief Minister of Maharashtra, had decided to reform the APMC and allow farmers to directly sell their fresh farm produce of vegetables and fruits, but later backed out due to pressure from traders.No exports
No export of mangoes have taken place due to COVID-19. Indian farmers cultivate around 40 percent, or 15 tonne, of mangoes only for exports.
“The US is an important market destination for mango exporters. However, there is a protocol in place to export mangos to the US,” said a mango trader.
A US inspector comes to India to inspect the cargo, which is then exported. But this year due to COVID-19, the inspector has not arrived and so the exports didn’t happen to any of the countries,” he added.