With its annual production of around 2 million ton, West Bengal is one of the largest contributors to India’s national mango output of around 22 million ton (mt) that is near 40% of global yield. Incidentally all the mango producing zones in West Bengal like districts of Malda, Murshidabad or South 24 Parganas are industrially backward and highly dependent on this perishable seasonal fruit.
“The lockdown right at the peak of Mango harvesting has ruined this season’s sale. But Amphan is likely to destroy trees and orchards causing massive long loss for many future seasons,” said Shaukat Ali, an orchard owner. Apart from 50,000 growers like Ali, there are other 2.5 lakh people dependent on mango in Malda district alone.
As per prediction made by Indian meteorological Department, after landfall near Kolkata on its northward course, super cyclone Amphan will swipe over South 24 Paraganahs, Murshidabad with its heavy destructive force. It will cross Malda’s latitude by Thursday morning. “Because of small eastward turn taken during last two days, exact central point of the storm is not likely to touch Malda. But the district is ought to face high impact of the storm. Its wind velocity at that point may go as high as 110km per hour,” said senior meteorologist G. Raha.
“Storms like norwesters are common during Mago harvest season. But this cyclone is coming with high destructive power compared to norwesters. While causing large scale damage to semi matured fruits waiting to be harvested, the cyclone will shatter many branches or uproot many tress. These heavy and long term damages are hard to withstand,” said Ujjal Saha, President Malda Mango Marchant’s Association.