Mango yields tumble as heatwave and water shortage batter Pakistan
Pakistan’s mango farmers are expecting a 50% decline in yield this year, as ongoing heatwave and water shortages continue to batter the country, according to the chief of a growers' and exporters' association.
Tando Allahyar, a district in the province of Sindh, is one of Pakistan's richest agricultural regions, which grows a range of crops like wheat, sugarcane, cotton and mangoes. However, farmers are facing less than bountiful yields this mango season.
“When unripe fruits are ready, it requires water which helps the mangoes grow to a good size. If there is less water available, it will not grow to a good size, which means we bear a loss. There is no water in Sindh,” said a mango orchard contractor, Gul Hassan.
Pakistan witnessed an extreme heatwave this month, with temperatures in the south crossing 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit). The south Asian nation had jumped from winter to summer without experiencing a spring, according to the country's Climate Change Ministry.
More than a billion people are at risk from the effects of heat in the region, scientists have warned, linking the early onset of an intense summer to climate change.
"The heatwave has affected it (the crop) greatly because the temperature in March was 28, 29 degrees Celsius - but all of a sudden it hit 42," said Waheed Ahmed, head of the Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Exporters, Importers and Merchants Association.
He said the heat at the time of the flowering of mango trees affected production greatly, adding that Pakistan was facing a 50% drop in mango production this year as a result.
Pakistan is the world’s fifth-largest mango producer, after India, China, Thailand and Indonesia, according to Ahmed. However, the untimely spike in temperature has dented their production and led to a re-evaluation of export targets.
Pakistan's average mango production is nearly 1.8 million tonnes, but likely to be around half that this year, he said, adding the association has cut its export target by 25,000 tonnes compared with last year to 125,000 tonnes.