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Cold spell damages mango crop

MULTAN, Feb 8: The President of Mango Growers Association of Pakistan, Syed Zahid Hussain Gardezi, has said that the current cold spell in the country has devastated the mango cultivation spreading from Sahiwal in Punjab to Hyderabad in Sindh at a time when the plants were nearing the fruit-bearing stage.

He said in a statement on Friday that almost 80 per cent of mango orchards had been affected and there was a genuine concern about loss of average fruit production.

Mr. Gardezi recalled that the phenomenon of heavy frost in mango-growing areas had occurred in the 60s and now it was after almost 35 years that the havoc and vagaries of climate had re-emerged.

He said that in 2006 many mango nurseries and trees were wiped off when there was a scattered spell of cold wave but this year when the mango growers were recuperating from their earlier losses a more devastating calamity has depressed the mango growers.

He said that it was unfortunate that in spite of innumerable government agencies working for the development of horticulture the growers have endured continued losses in mango production and trade.

The longstanding demand of the growers to introduce mango orchard and crop insurance policy, as practiced in the developed countries, to work as a compensatory mechanism during catastrophes has not been attended.

Mr. Gardezi pointed out that the agriculture department and the research agencies have yet not shown any concern despite the magnitude of losses suffered by the growers.

He demanded that the agriculture income tax levied on orchards should be waived for two consecutive years along with water tax and land revenue.

The affected growers should be given interest free loans of shorter duration so that they could be able to curtail further damage to their orchards, he added.

He also called for the constitution of a committee to survey the damage caused by the heavy frost to mango orchards and to recommend compensatory modalities for the growers and the rehabilitation plans for the damaged mango orchards.

He also demanded that irrigation department should be advised to change its schedule of annual closure of canals in order to prevent aggravated damages to mango orchards because the orchards need profuse irrigation during frosty period.

He requested the governor State Bank to direct banks and finance institutions to defer recoveries of outstanding loans from the growers and reschedule these as a compensatory measure.

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