1. Agriculture World

Muthalamada Mango Farmers are Preparing for Next Season

Even as the current season's mangoes from Tamil Nadu continued to reach the Kerala market, Muthalamada farmers began planning for the next season. Farmers anticipate a higher yield by January-February of next year.

Shivam Dwivedi
Muthalamada Mango
Muthalamada Mango

Mango farmers and traders of Muthalamada in the district are banking on the monsoon to help them recover from crop disasters in the last few years. In the last two years, delayed and untimely rain and an unprecedentedly massive thrips attack nearly decimated the crops in the State's ‘mango city.'

However, in an extraordinary show of confidence, dozens of farmers have begun their work on preparing for the next season in earnest. To beat the weather and the thrips, the farmers began pruning and fertilising the trees a month in advance.

"Normally, preparations such as pruning and fertilising begin in July." "This time, we started in June, expecting a better yield," said Hafees J.M., a leading mango farmer and exporter from Muthalamada.

Even as the current season's mangoes from Tamil Nadu continued to reach the Kerala market, Muthalamada farmers began planning for the next season. Farmers anticipate a higher yield by January-February of next year.

Muthalamada mangoes are unique in the country due to their early cropping. "We were the first to enter the national mango market." Muthalamada mangoes arrive in markets in Delhi, Mumbai, and Ahmedabad weeks before mangoes from other parts of the country. That is why we have a unique position in the national mango market," Hafees explained.

Many farmers are using rotavators to break up and recharge the soil. Farmers, however, are avoiding cluster farming and preferring young trees to old and robust trees, in contrast to previous years.

"The reason is self-evident. Young trees are found to produce more than older trees. "They are also less vulnerable to thrips attack," Hafees added. Another farmer, M. Sachindran, supported Hafees by claiming that the thrips had attacked the flowers of old trees in vengeance. Farmers continue to be concerned about the thrips. "Thrips or no thrips, we must live." "We should look for ways to avoid this threat," Sachindran said.

Kerala Agricultural University entomologists are developing bio-pesticide alternatives to combat the thrips infestation. Some of the experiments carried out in Muthalamada's mango orchards were successful. Muthalamada's mango orchards, which cover 4,500 hectares, are Kerala's pride. Muthalamada produces popular mango varieties such as Alphonso, Banganapalli, Sindhooram, Mallika, Kalapadi, Malgoa, Natsela, Kilichundan, and Neelam.

Despite the government's announcement that a mango processing centre would be established in Muthalamada, transforming the State's'mango city' into a South Indian mango park, nothing has happened. According to the government, the mango park will include facilities for mango processing, packaging, and export. The Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB) agreed to fund a common facilitation centre for juice and mango processing two years ago.

Apart from the quality of Muthalamada soil, the weather in the region has been favourable for mango farming. Despite the government's proposal to gradually transition mango farming to organic cultivation by introducing clusters, farmers have been found to be moving away from cluster farming.

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