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Mangoes next year

Miguel Braganza

The common trend in Goa is that, after each unsuccessful or partly successful event, we brainstorm, decide to do things differently the next time and then do the same thing again. It is a lazy cycle; nothing vicious about it. Whether it is the inter-institution sports tournament; an annual day; a social event or festival; or just a simple thing like growing mangoes at home, it is the same storyline. It is like a grandma’s story; the same story with a few changes in the narration!

So how can we get mangoes every year from the same tree? It is actually quite simple. After harvesting the current crop of mangoes, give the plants manure and water to encourage a new flush of shoots and leaves. The soils of the Konkan, including Goa, are deficient in phosphorus and potash. A dose of five kilograms each of water-insoluble rock phosphate (Uniphos) and wood ash per tree with some phosphate solubilising bacteria (PSB) together with five to ten kilograms of compost or goat pellets should be applied in a ring that forms the ‘drip circle’ or the outer edge of the noon-time shadow of the tree. This becomes sustained-release manure for the tree.

Apply two hundred litres of water per tree to drench the soil below the tree. One need not water all the trees on one day but adding water in instalments to one tree will not produce the desired results. The soil must be drenched; otherwise the tree will give new leaves in July when the soil is drenched by the monsoon rains. Remove the Loranthus and the Mistletoe plant parasites or Bhendul from the tree and apply common salt on their root stubs to prevent their re-emergence. Salt also prevents the termites from making mud tunnels up the tree trunks. One can also whitewash the bottom one metre of the tree trunk to prevent termite attack. Sprinkling five kilograms of lime on the soil below the tree prevents both termites in the soil and spongy tissue (saka or laxem) in the fruits of Hapus and Mankurad. There is no need to kill the termites (Raulu or Rawalnath) that build the Ro-inn or Sater that the people of the Konkan worship as Sateri Devi. Organic agriculture is about co-existence.

Can we rejuvenate an old mango tree that we have in our compound? Oh yes, we can. It is better than Botox that only makes us look young. Severe pruning can really rejuvenate a mango tree and make it young again. It is something that Ajit Shirodkar, Janardan Teli and Bhooshan Nabar have tried and tested over the last twenty years and, more importantly, tasted success in the form of bumper yields of mango fruits. From Devgad to Vengurla, it has been a success right from the coast to about fifteen kilometres away. Fifteen kilometres is almost half the width of Goa from the Arabian Sea to the Sahayadri hills. It has now been researched at the Regional Fruit Research Station n Vengurla and recommended to the other farmers and mango growers. One can visit RFRS-Vengurla and learn how to do it right. Vengurla is as far away from Mapusa as is Margao, the difference is only in the mind, the local language and in the inter-state border, nothing else. Ten Agriculture Officers and fifteen farmers, who attended the International Mango Conference at RFRS-Vengurla recently, may also be able to guide you.

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