Climate Change: A Case of Disappearing Mangoes


Hussnain Ghayoor

MUZAFFARGARH, Jun 20 (APP): It’s the mango season again. Many people adore mangoes for their succulence, sweet pulp and soul soothing aroma. Almost every fruit lover waits for the arrival of sweltering summer the whole year just to be able to have mangoes in their fruit basket.

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

Pakistan is reportedly facing a 50% drop in mango production this year due to the effects of climate change and high temperatures.

The average production of mango in Pakistan is 1.8 million tons and with 50% reduction, it is likely to be limited to 0.9 million tons.

All Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Exporters Association (PFVA) has curtailed its export target by 25,000 tons as compared to last year in view of declining mango production during this season and has set an export target of 125,000 tons for the current mango season which will fetch Pakistan valuable foreign exchange of USD 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 a little deeper and have a clear picture of the situation in the wake of drastic drop in production, APP had a direct interaction with all stakeholders including mango orchid owners, traders, and exporters.

Jam Murad is a well-reputed and well-versed mango grower of Basti Habib in Muzaffargarh district known for its mango harvesting where every resident owns a mango orchid. The landholding size varies from 12 acres to 100 acres maximum. The town is engaged in mango production from generations.

Murad narrated the ordeal of mango growers and the adverse impact of climate change on the produce this year in the following words: “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 percent 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.

Talking to APP 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 explained.

Moreover, the stakeholders have expressed their concern over reduction of 30 percent 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.