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INDIA 2015 : The fruit king is back, almost


Collecting produce

 The ban on mango export and climatic change in the growing areas have brought a needed thrust on improving food standards

The May 2014 ban imposed by the European Union on the import of Indian mangoes lasted seven months. But it didn't prove to be a major hurdle for the fruit exporters. According to the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), exports and revenues for the 2014-15 marginally increased over the previous year.

According to the APEDA, in 2014-15 India exported 42,998 tonnes of mangoes to 47 countries, earning ₹302 crore. In the previous year, 41,280 tonnes of mangoes were exported to 53 countries, resulting in revenues of ₹285 crore. While exports to the US and Japanese markets also improved, the biggest fall was in the UK, where the trade plunged to 329 tonnes in 2014-15 from 3,381 tonnes a year earlier.

Still, the ban, and the climatic change in the mango growing areas in Maharashtra have brought a needed thrust on improving food standards. The erratic climate has seen the production of Alphonso, the most premium variety of mango exported from the country, dip by about 40 per cent over the last two years. 

“Before the export ban was thrust on India, there were no organised efforts by Indian exporters to meet the importing countries food safety requirements,” says Jagadeesh Sunkad, Agriculture consultant to the Asian Development Bank. 

These countries were most worried about fruit flies and seed weevil insects entering their ecosystem. These pests are predatory in nature and can harm other varieties of plants, he adds.

Since the ban, traders, farmers and the Central Government have become aware of the food safety requirements of other countries and taken steps such as irradiation, water and chemical treatments for eliminating the pest. 

“Insects are present in the form of eggs in the mangoes, therefore the fruit needs to be treated properly before shipping,” Sunkad said. 

Under irradiation, fruits are exposed to radiation to kill disease-causing micro-organisms.

Review of supply chain

After the ban, processes for the exports of mangoes were reviewed and depending on the sanitary requirements of each country the treatment process for mangoes was devised. Experts from the EU and the US were invited for inspecting the facilities for accreditation.

 American regulations are strict on sanitary requirements; mangoes have to be transported from Konkan to Lasalgaon in Nashik for irradiation treatment.

 A similar unit has been set up in Navi Mumbai, but it is now undergoing the accreditation process.

The APEDA has started a process called Mango Net, which attempts to trace the journey of a mango, right from the orchard till it reaches the customers. 

So if a particular fruit has flies then it could be traced back to the orchard. 

Vivek Bhide, a mango farmer from Ratnagiri and a member of the Maharashtra State Mango and Cashew Board, says that Mango Net needs to be strengthened further so that every outbreak of insects can be traced to the origin. 

“Rather than a blanket ban, a particular orchard can be banned in the future,”  he says.

Volatile climate

The spurt in export volumes has not made up for the production woes of mangoes since 2009. The volatile climate has made it difficult for thousands of mango farmers in the Konkan to sustain their business. 

The Alphonso mango, which is the most sought-after in the country, is extensively cultivated in Sindhudurg, Ratnagiri and Raigad districts of Konkan and some areas of Pune district.

Due to effects of climate change since 2009, deficient, or untimely rains in winter have played havoc with the crop. Bhide’s Alphonso production was down by 40 per cent in 2015; and if the weather continues to remain unpredictable then the 2016 season could also be a washout.

The change in climate has led to an increase in the activity of fungi, flies and insects on the mango trees. Earlier, major pest on mango trees were Mango Hopper and White Powder Mildew along with the regular Stem and Shoot Borers.

In the last four to six years, this pattern has changed. New fruit insects such as Thrips and Red Spider are now affecting the trees. 

Thrips attacks smaller crops such as chillies, but the crop can be saved in 12 hours if the insect is spotted early. But in a tall mango tree, it takes a while to catch the culprit, and often it is too late. Thrips eats flowers, which are essential for fruit formation.

“In the last 40 years we have been using the huge amount of pesticides based on Organophosphates, Synthetic Pyrethroids and OPM compounds, but the sad part is that the insects have developed resistance to them.

"Newer pesticides are being imported but at a huge cost. Some of the newer molecules are as expensive as ₹8,000 a kilo. Therefore, the cost of spraying is huge,”  Bhide said.

(This article was published on October 12, 2015)

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Perhaps it is time for a GLOBAL taste test ???

In alphabetical order by Country....



Alphonso (mango)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Alphonso (हापुस Haapoos in Marathi, હાફુસ in Gujarati, ಆಪೂಸ್ Aapoos in Kannada) is a mango cultivar that is considered by many[who?] to be one of the best in terms of sweetness, richness and flavor. 

It has considerable shelf life of a week after it is ripe making it exportable. 

It is also one of the most expensive kinds of mango and is grown mainly in Kokan region of western India.

 It is in season April through May and the fruit wei…

Mangoes date back 65 million years according to research ...

Experts at the Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeobotany (BSIP) here have traced the origin of mango to the hills of Meghalaya, India from a 65 million year-old fossil of a mango leaf. 

The earlier fossil records of mango (Mangifera indica) from the Northeast and elsewhere were 25 to 30 million years old. The 'carbonized leaf fossil' from Damalgiri area of Meghalaya hills, believed to be a mango tree from the peninsular India, was found by Dr R. C. Mehrotra, senior scientist, BSIP and his colleagues. 

After careful analysis of the fossil of the mango leaf and leaves of modern plants, the BISP scientist found many of the fossil leaf characters to be similar to mangifera.

An extensive study of the anatomy and morphology of several modern-day species of the genus mangifera with the fossil samples had reinforced the concept that its centre of origin is Northeast India, from where it spread into neighbouring areas, says Dr. Mehrotra. 

The genus is believed to have disseminated into neighb…

INDIA 2016 : Mango production in state likely to take a hit this year

TNN | May 22, 2016, 12.32 PM IST

Mangaluru: Vagaries of nature is expected to take a toll on the production of King of Fruits - Mango - in Karnataka this year. A combination of failure of pre-monsoon showers at the flowering and growth stage and spike in temperature in mango growing belt of the state is expected to limit the total production of mango to an estimated 12 lakh tonnes in the current season as against 14 lakh tonnes in the last calendar year.

However, the good news for fruit lovers is that this could see price of mangoes across varieties decrease marginally by 2-3%. This is mainly on account of 'import' of the fruit from other mango-growing states in India, said M Kamalakshi Rajanna, chairperson, Karnataka State Mango Development and Marketing Corporation Ltd.

Karnataka is the third largest mango-growing state in India after Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra.

Inaugurating a two-day Vasanthotsava organized by Shivarama Karantha Pilikula Nisargadhama and the Corporation at P…