BY AUGUSTO RODRIGUES
What is a Goan summer without mangoes? The State has a plethora of varieties to choose from. Fernandin, Gota or Chupadera, Musarad, Malgese, Afonso, and the very much sought-after Malcurad, Goa has svereal varieties to choose from. This year, however, Goans were kept waiting for that delectable mango nectar so relished by them in the season.
After a delay of almost a month, it is time to pluck mangoes in Goa. The start of the plucking season has caused the prices of mangoes to crash with the favourite Malcurad selling at Rs 500 a dozen. Prices are expected to decrease further in the coming days.
“The unprecedented heat for five days in March of this year affected pollination. Though plucking commenced just a week back, Goa is facing a drop in yield and the size of the Malcurad mango too,” disclosed Nevil Alphonso, Director of Agriculture.
Mangoes were on sale in the market as early as the end of March, and Malcurad mangoes were being sold for as much as Rs 5000 in a few places, with vendors then selling them for Rs 2000 in the main district markets.
“The mangoes that were sold first were not the produce of Goa. They were brought from other parts and sold here. Plucking of mangoes normally starts by the end of April,” averred Alphonso.
“This is the first time that we have had to wait so late to pluck mangoes. We normally start relishing our mangoes in May, but the wait was very long this year,” confessed Armenia, as she caressed and smelt the first mangoes that were slid into a basket by the man on the tree plucking the mangoes.
“I was paid Rs 40,000 for the produce this year, plus 200 mangoes that we enjoy and share amongst other members of our family,” disclosed Armenia, who claims that zadd pikem (mangoes that ripen on trees) are the tastiest.
“I am a tree climber. I pluck coconuts, mangoes, jackfruits or any fruit-bearing tree. I charge Rs 1000 to pluck fruits from one mango tree and normally it takes us half a day,” admitted Rosario after descending a tree for a break.
“It is extremely hot these days and that is why I start early and finish before noon. Then I start around four and finish by six. The trees become very hot, and this is a new phenomenon,” sounds out Durga, as he supervises the plucking in St Tome in Panjim.
“I come with a team, and normally my boys (he has four boys) finish around three trees these days. We have never experienced such heat before because it is for the first time that we are plucking the fruit when it is almost time for the monsoon to start,” says Durga.
“The produce ripened late this year, and I found it difficult to find someone who would climb my tree. So, I asked these boys from Karnataka whether they would help me if I paid them, and they agreed,” stated Arnold, as he brought out his koblem to give it to the boys.
“I will pay them Rs 300 each, plus some mangoes, depending on how many are there in the end. I am asking them to pluck just the Malcurad and ask the boys and girls from the village to feast on the other tree – it is a Mangilal,” says Arnold.
As everyone in Goa thinks of ways to beat the heat, a zadd pikem mango on the ground will help quench thirst and leave a lovely taste behind.