Home NewsAustralia Mango growers squeezed, but one variety brought sweet relief

Mango growers squeezed, but one variety brought sweet relief

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It has been a tricky season for many of Australia’s mango growers, with “disappointing” yields and challenges with labour and enter prices. 

Whereas there may be nonetheless a few months left within the nationwide harvest, peak manufacturing for the 2021/22 season has been reached and the nationwide crop is now predicted to come back in at beneath 8 million trays.

That’s effectively down on earlier seasons by which the Australian mango business persistently produced over 10 million trays.

The dimensions of Australia’s mango crop may have been worse however was saved by a report harvest of the Calypso selection.

“That is the largest crop ever for Calypsos; we did over 12 million kilograms (1.6 million trays) and there was nonetheless one other 2 million kilograms on the bushes,” grower Nino Niceforo mentioned.

Trays of Calypso mangoes moving along a conveyor belt.
Northern Territory growers produced 4.4 million trays of mangoes this yr, with greater than a 3rd coming from Nino Niceforo’s farms.(ABC Rural: Max Rowley)

Mr Niceforo mentioned it was “a protracted and exhausting” season for his farms, unfold throughout Darwin, Katherine and Mataranka within the Northern Territory.

He mentioned the corporate’s fertiliser program performed an enormous position in producing an enormous crop and the climate was “good” for Calypso mangoes. 

Nevertheless, the identical climate is being blamed for poor yields in most different varieties, particularly the well-known Kensington Delight (KP) mango.

“I believe should you have a look at the KP numbers, they are going to be down even on final yr, which was a particularly challenging year,” NT Mango Trade Affiliation president Leo Skliros mentioned.

“Usually if we’ve got a great mango season, all of the varieties appear to do effectively. However this yr simply appeared to be a really totally different season,” he mentioned.

A male Vanuatuan worker in a high-vis uniform collects a mango from a tree with a picking pole.
The mango business has relied closely on seasonal staff to choose and pack fruit this season.(ABC Rural: Max Rowley)

Are robots the long run for mango choosing?

Mr Skliros mentioned the silver lining to a below-average crop was that not as many pickers have been required throughout a yr the place labour was arduous to seek out.

“I am not too positive what is going on to occur if we do have one other good yr — with labour and transport,” he mentioned. 

Mr Niceforo agrees labour is a serious problem for the business going ahead.

“We get criticised for bringing in abroad labour … however of 5,000 positions Australia large, final yr there have been solely 173 [local] candidates. You possibly can’t have a look at the long run on these numbers,” he mentioned.

Three rows of mangoes on conveyor belts pass through a robotic scanning machine, workers sort and pack mangoes in background.
Niceforo Group already use some robotic gear of their packing sheds.(ABC Rural: Max Rowley)

Mr Niceforo mentioned his sons have been taking up administration subsequent yr and have been eager to focus on robotics.

“Labour goes to be arduous to come back by sooner or later. So these guys are younger, enthusiastic, they usually’ve bought some nice concepts about robotics,” he mentioned. 

In keeping with the Australian Mango Trade Affiliation (AMIA), round 330,000 trays of mangoes have been picked in Australia final week.

About 230,000 trays are anticipated to be picked this week main as much as Christmas.

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