Nipah safety net for mango

mango tree covered in a net in Malda
Raiganj: Nipah fears have taken root in the groves of Malda, Bengal's mango basket, prompting a two-pronged safety net.

Malda fruits plucked before time, nets on trees


The growers are plucking the fruits ahead of time or covering the trees with nets to keep off bats, carriers of the Nipah virus.

"Although no Nipah infection has been reported in the district so far, mango growers are not ready to take chances. Some are plucking the fruits ahead of season while others are covering the trees full of semi-ripened mangoes with nets," said Ujjal Chowdhury, secretary, Malda Mango Association.

Malda, known for its different varieties of mango, has orchards over 32,000 hectares. Production is estimated at 3.5 lakh tonnes this season, up from 2.7 lakh tonnes last year. Litchis are grown on 1,200 hectares.
According to farmers, some of the more popular varieties - such as lyangra, gopalbhog, himsagar and amarapali - have been plucked ahead of time and sent to the markets. "For other varieties like fazli, a late-maturing fruit, nets are being used. The trend has led to supply of adequate mangoes in the markets and the rates are low compared to last year," said Dinesh Roy, a wholesaler of mangoes.
These varieties are selling at Rs 40 per kg. "Usually, these mangoes cost around Rs 60 to Rs 80 a kilo at this time. But with the early harvest, prices have come down," said a retailer in neighbouring Raiganj.
Sufal Ghosh, a mango farmer in Malda's Kaderpur, said the fruits could have been plucked a fortnight later. "But there is a risk that the fruits might get infected. Also, it is cumbersome to wrap the trees with nets. That is why we have started plucking the mangoes. We don't want to lose money," said Ghosh.
Officials said they had told farmers not to panic because of Nipah. "But most are worried and are plucking the mangoes," said an official.

The Telegraph

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Nipah fears have taken root in the groves of Malda, Bengal's mango basket, prompting a two-pronged safety net.

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