In a country where temperature in summers soars close to 50 degrees Celsius, one would imagine that it would not be an eagerly awaited season. Yet, many Indians look forward to the summers. For some, mainly school children, it means vacations, for some others it means new designs and clothes in the shops, while for many others it means the arrival of the King; The king of fruits-Mango.
Mangoes have been grown in India for over 4000 years now, old enough to find mention in some of the earliest Sanskrit texts, under the name‘Amra’, while its Latin name is Mangifera indica. India is now home to over 1500 varieties of mangoes and which are grown all over the country and in varying periods of the year.
The pricey fruit has an aroma rich and sweet enough to unfurl in its surrounding air. Its golden-yellow colour makes it visually appetizing and its texture is velvety soft. The savoury fruit is also an ace in sight and smell,making it the national fruit of India.
Production & Sales
At over 25 million tonnes, India accounts for over 50 pc of the total mango production in the world and is also the largest exporter. Of the several mango producing states, Uttar Pradesh leads the production followed by Karnataka, Telangana and Bihar.
The buyers for Indian mangoes are spread across the world, with a large majority of production being consumed within the domestic market and the rest exported to over 100 countries, chiefly to Middle East, South East Asia, SAARC countries, the EU and the US.
Trading of the King
The European Union had temporarily banned import of Indian mangoes in 2013 following a contaminated consignment. This affected business with the 28 members of the EU and wholesalers and retailers in Indian dominated regions of the UK had strongly opposed it. The ban was however lifted in 2015 clearing the King’s way for a return to the UK and other member states of the EU.
However, mango export from India continues to be under threat because of the high volume of pesticides found. The UAE, a major importer that accounts for nearly 70 pc of India’s mango export, has issued a warning that it might stop the imports if shipments are not according to standards. It has also asked Indian exporters for a pesticide residue analysis report. Agricultural & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) of India, which promotes exports of Indian food products, has asked exporters to obtain phytosanitary certificates before exporting the fruit.
Besides the traditional markets, Indian mangoes have also begun testing new ones with South Korea being the latest in the list as the Korean regulatory approvals were received for the import of Indian mangoes. Exporters, wishing to export mangoes to South Korea, will need to get the mango orchards and packing houses registered with the APEDA, the Indian embassy, in a statement, said.
On other hand, mango cultivators in Indian states like Tamil Nadu are witnessing a 30-40 pc fall in production due to insufficient rainfall and harsh weather conditions. The produce from the state is exported to Singapore and Malaysia and the lower production has driven the price higher.
Barter, Bikes and Mangoes
India used mangoes to wheel and deal with the United States to pave way for the sale of an American cult bike brand Harley-Davidson to India. In 2007, India eased emission guidelines for imported motorbikes to allow Harley-Davidson to enter the Indian market. This was a trade deal in exchange for mango exports to the US, which had earlier banned mango exports from India because of concerns over residual pesticides on the exported fruits.
A mango a day keeps the doctor away
The tropical fruit is rich in fibre and has vitamins, calcium, potassium and Iron. It is high in natural sweetness and calories making it a good substitute for sugar items. It is also rich in antioxidants and promotes a healthy heart and sharp vision.
It is a great skin cleanser and is thus used in beauty products; a direct rub of a mango-peel or mango slice on your face is also an option.
Mango leaves have medicinal properties. They are helpful in curing kidney stones, respiratory problems, earache, bleeding dysentery and diabetes amongst some other ailments.
Summers are incomplete without mangoes and refrigerators in Indian homes without mango drinks and jams. They are also used in Indian homes to make pickles and in Mexican cuisine to make salsas.Their use and presentation differs with different countries but what remains common is the ‘Mango Mania’.