Increase in farm thefts
Bacchubhai Singh, a farmer in Velpara village of Pardi taluka, has started plucking alphonso and kesar mangoes much before they actually ripen.
And, it's not because climate changes are threatening his crop. But, in the last one week, Singh has lost as much as 3,000 kg to mango thieves.
Gangs no more break into homes in Valsad. Instead, they are feasting on the fruits of hard labour of mango farmers.
Local police station in Pardi has been flooded with complaints from mango orchard owners that gangs, suspected to be tribal youths, are stealing the fruits from their farms.
It is estimated that thieves have stolen at least 20,000 kg of mangoes of different varieties from nearly 15 orchards in the past 10 days.
"In last one week, thieves have stolen nearly 1,200 kg langdo and alphonso from my orchard," said Natubhai Patel, a farmer in Balda village.
Already reeling under the impact of climate change, farmers are now forced to pluck the mangoes 8-10 days before they fully ripen.
"I am fed up keeping a watch on the orchard the whole night. As the fruit is not fully ripe, it weighs less and we get lesser value for our produce," said Jagubhai Patel of Khadki village, who lost nearly 400 kg in two days to thieves.
They are not only the farmers who are becoming victims of thefts. Thieves are targeting the farms of well known personalities too.
In last 10 days, they have stolen nearly 1,500 kg from orchards of Pardi Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) director Dharmesh Modi, famous doctor Prabhatsinh Thakor and Pardi BJP president Kamlesh Patel.
Ranchhod Patel, president of APMC, said the mango influx has reduced 50% compared to last season due to unofficial trading.
"Unlike us, such unscrupulous traders are also charging commission from farmers which is banned as per the government rules."
"These stolen mangoes are unofficially traded in many villages. This practice needs to be dealt with strictly," said Modi.
K G Sisodiya, police sub-inspector, Pardi, said, "We have received 10 written complaints and a large number of oral complaints too. We are soon going to start night patrolling with the help of villagers."
Source: Argentine Beef Packers S.A.