Saturday, 13 July 2013

Traditianal Practice of Mango Plucking in Bihar, India


Rabish Chandra
@rabishchandra on twitter
Mango is considered as 'The King of all Fruits' in India. Mangifera indica (Linn.) (scientific name for mango) belongs to family Anacardiaceae of plant kingdom. It is found wildly as well as several  introduced and cultivated varities also occurs in different parts of India. India occupies top position among mango growing countries of the world and produces 40.48% of the total world mango production (APEDA, 2010).
As per National Horticultural Database (India), production of Mango in this season (2013) in India may cross 17 million tons. With regard to Bihar mangoes are grown in approximately 147740 hectares and this season production is nearly 1.5 million tonnes. Record production of mango comes with problem, the price will be dipped. With regard to export, mango farmers still lacks the skill of post harvest management. Plucking of mangoes which is a part of harvest management needs to be improvised to maintain the quality of mangoes for longer period. Though traditional practices of plucking mangoes in Bihar is economical but it has certain drawback and risks too.

Mango in an orchard
Tools and equipments
1. Plucking Pole - As shown in the picture a hook mounted with a bag is tied with at one end of the bamboo pole. The notches works to pluck the mango where as the attached bag is used for instant storage which prevents the mango from falling to ground.

Plucking Pole
2. Bucket with Rope - A small but strong bucket having tied with long rope is used to store mangoes by the pluckers above the tree (pic). Alternatively a jute gunny bag is also used instead of  bucket.

Bucket with Rope
3. Basket - A bamboo woven basket is used to store the harvested mango near the tree. Many farmers uses plastic caret to store and carry the mangoes to the nearest store room.

Bamboo woven basket to store the mangoes
Steps of harvesting
Farmers uses a wooden chair or sometimes a bamboo ladder to climb on the tree. Using the plucking pole they pluck the mangoes. After collecting some 5-6 mangoes in the bag attached with plucking poles, the mangoes are transferred in the bucket. The same is repeated till the bucket is full (15-20 mangoes). The bucket full of mangoes is send down where another person transfers the mangoes to a basket or plastic caret. Once the basket is full, the mangoes are taken away to a room where the mangoes are stored on the layer of straw or leaves. From here either it is sold in retail or supplied to wholeseller depending upon the quantitites and market demand.
 
Steps of harvesting mangoes
Advantages
1. This prcatice seems to be economical.
2. Applicable for samll scale.
3. Expertise not required

Drawbacks
1.Though the plucking pole is provided with bag, most of these plucking pole does not have any scissors or other cutting equipments attached with bag. As a result the fruits bearing stem are not cut, but rather fruit is pulled. Therefore, although the bag receives the fruit and prevents dropping it on the ground, it does not allow cutting it with a stem. This may causes decaying of fruits.
2. There is no safety concerns in these traditional practices. A long sleeve shirt, hat, socks, glasses to protect eyes are essential requirements while plucking. The sap coming out from the stems are caustic in nature and can burn skin as well as the mango epicarpis.
Conclusion 
Though the traditional practice of mango plucking is easy and economical, improvement is the need. Farmers should be trained regarding the disadvantage of traditional practice. On the other hand small farmers should be funded through public and private agencies to get the modern harvesting equipments. This will not only increase the quality of harvested mangoes but will also increase the earning and livelihood of mango farmers.
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Views are personal. The above mentioned information is for academic purpose and author doesnot recommend to practice it in the absence of an expert.

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