VIJAYAWADA: In the wake of the mystery illness at Eluru indicating the presence of residues of pesticides in vegetables and fruits, and the growing awareness thereof, there is a huge demand for fruit covers made of wood pulp for raising varieties like mango, pomegranate, mosambi, banana, among others to provide protection from pests, inclement weather conditions and even to provide value addition in Andhra Pradesh.
Horticulture authorities say that some farmers are using such covers for mango crop, especially in parts of Krishna district. They fix cover to the mango fruit when the size of the fruit is like a small lemon and keep it for nearly 40 to 45 days until its harvest and the same cover can also be used for ripening the fruit in four to five days as against using carbide. They say that the advantages for fixing such cover are that there is no need for farmers to spray pesticide; protects fruit drop in case of heavy gales and there is no damage to the fruit in case of rainfall. By the time, the fruit gets ready for harvest, it is free from residues of pesticides, high quality of fruit with no black spots on its outer skin, more weight and shelf life and fetches high price with value addition, maintain the authorities.
A mango farmer K. Srinivasa Rao from Reddykunta in Krishna district said, “After using covers, the fruit has become free from pesticide residues and its weight has gone up by 100 gms. I exported 10 tonnes of banginapalli variety of mangoes to Singapore at a good price of Rs 85,000 per tonne last season.”
Another mango farmer Ch. Krupa Raju from Reddygudem in Krishna district, said, “As I had fixed covers to mango fruits, its quality was enhanced substantially. I sold a tonne of such fruits for Rs 1.20 lakh whereas the regular variety price was Rs 75,000 last year.”
The farmers are making a fervent appeal to the state government to provide them fruit covers at subsidized rates as it costs Rs two for each cover and Rs one towards labour charges. They said that they got a subsidy of Rs 1.40 for each cover during the TD regime and sought its continuation so that they can raise several varieties of fruits.
Horticulture authorities say that as there is a huge demand for Banginapalli variety of mangoes which are free from pesticide residues in Mumbai, Delhi, the US, Europe and Singapore, it is time to encourage farmers to use such covers to provide value addition to their fruits and help them earn good money and reduce input costs on raising the crop.