Himsagar is considered the most popular variety of mangoes available in West Bengal. The cyclone Yaas along with the lockdown rules and Covid-19 pandemic has caused havoc for the mango sellers.
It’s summer in India and for all the Bengalis one word is very common whenever they visit the market. Mango. Considered as the king of all fruits, there are plenty of varieties of mangoes available in the market. In West Bengal, the most popular among all is the Himsagar, the pulpy greenish yellow coloured mangoes that the majority of the people lovees.
However, the year 2021 is not at all sweet for the mango farmers or sellers, but for the buyers. Blame it on the cyclone Yaas, which ravaged the coastal districts in the southern part of West Bengal last week along with Odisha.
With the Himsagar mangoes had to be plucked ahead of cyclone Yaas, to save them from the storm, this variety of mango is being sold at an almost throwaway price. The cyclone Yaas combined with the market time curb due to the lockdown announced in West Bengal has led to the distress sale of Himsagar mangoes among many other things. In major city markets across Kolkata, the Himsagar mango is being sold at Rs 20 a kg, which is even lower than Chandramukhi potato, which was sold at Rs 22 a kg.
While at the beginning of May 2021, good quality Himsagar mangoes were being sold at Rs 100 per kg, the price was slumped to Rs 50 a kg right before the cyclone, and after the storm, it came down to Rs 20 per kg, one-fifth of the price that was at the beginning of the month. The sellers are selling the smaller ones and the overripe ones at even Rs 10-15 per kg, in a desperate attempt to clear the stock. With the price of West Bengal’s most popular mango being such cheap, buyers are happy and buying the Himsagar mangoes in bulk.
The farmers plucked the mangoes well ahead of time to save them from destroying by the cyclone Yaas. The Himsagar mangoes were yet to be ripe. Besides that, the subsequent flooding too has caused a huge amount of mangoes to get rotten. Some sellers say that when the mangoes were plucked off, they were almost ready for market. However, once the Himsagar mango is plucked off, the ripening and rotting sets in rapidly. The Himsagar mangoes required to be consumed within three-four days after being plucked off, otherwise they get wasted.
Himsagar mango’s milk story
What is happening to Himsagar mangoes this year, happened to milk during last year’s lockdown. Tons of litres of milk had to be thrown away last year as, during the initial phase of lockdown, the sweet shops were closed because they were not on the essential item list. However, later on, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee allowed the sweet shop owners to keep the shops open, which saved the milk industry from an even bigger loss.
This year, the West Bengal government has announced a lockdown with some relieving measures in the middle of May 2021, in an attempt to curb the alarmingly rising cases of Covid-19. Under the new rule, the markets and shops that are not on the essential list can be kept open between 7 AM and 10 AM. However, these three hours of the operational window is not enough, claims many fruit sellers.
The Calcutta Fruit Merchants Association has even written a letter to WB Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee requesting her to relax the current market timings and allow the sales of the massive quantity of mangoes that have arrived from different areas to the city and the adjoining suburbs.