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Farmers attribute the poor mango crop to climate change

Farmers attribute the poor mango crop to climate change

The mango harvest in Tando Allahyar, normally a source of national pride and vital income for farmers, has been significantly impacted by climate change-induced parasites and extreme weather conditions this season.

Farmers like Muhammad Yusuf, adorned with a scarf to shield himself from the scorching heat, are witnessing the repercussions of erratic weather patterns firsthand. An unusually prolonged winter followed by the wettest April in decades, coupled with the ongoing heatwave, has disrupted the mango crop cycle. Yusuf laments the delayed flowering of buds and the rampant infestation of black hopper parasites, attributing these challenges to climate change.

Pakistan, the world’s fourth-largest mango producer, heavily relies on agriculture, which accounts for nearly a quarter of its GDP. However, in areas like Tando Ghulam Ali, orchard managers like Arsalan are witnessing production losses of 15 to 20 percent due to damaged mangoes, affecting both domestic consumption and export prospects.

Ziaul Haq, a mango grower and exporter, describes the unprecedented attacks on fruit by pests, necessitating increased pesticide use. Farmers across Sindh and Punjab provinces have reported a surge in chemical application, from two times a year to six or seven, to combat the growing pest menace.

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The decline in mango yields can be traced back several years, with farmers struggling since 2022 in Sindh and even earlier in Punjab. Last year’s export target of 125,000 tonnes fell short, with only 100,000 tonnes reaching foreign markets.

The repercussions of a poor harvest extend beyond the agricultural sector, potentially impacting Pakistan’s overall economy. As the country grapples with negotiations for an IMF loan, the loss of income from mango exports adds to its economic challenges.

Local laborers like Mashooq Ali emphasize the need for government assistance to help farmers cope with the financial strain. With inflation eroding their purchasing power, families are turning to alternative sources of income, highlighting the urgent need for support in rural communities affected by the mango harvest downturn.