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Let us meet the “King of Mangoes” Sabir Patel

Apr 30, 2016



During his recent visit to Jeddah, Sabir Patel, an 86-year-old philanthropist and entrepreneur from Andhra Pradesh, was honored and felicitated at various Indian community events for his awards and recognition as a social reformer. 

He has written many books and is well versed with poetry. A great personality with strong views on various matters, Patel represents many high-ranking officials from the 60s and 70s in India. For instance, he has met with VIPs like Rajendra Prasad, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Vijaylakshmi Pandit and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad.

He was the President of Transport Association in Andhra Pradesh for more than 40 years and served in Congress for over 50 years. 

As the election officer in the late 70s, he supported Ms. Indira Gandhi to fight elections from the Medak district, which subsequently led her to victory with a big majority.

He started real estate business in Hyderabad where he established a colony called ‘Sabir Nagar’ and built houses in 17 acres of land, which were distributed, to the poor regardless of religion.

He is also the recipient of Golden Mango from the then Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh N. Chandrababu Naidu. 

The award was given to him for his contribution in the growth of mango trees with various types of mangoes (maximum 40) grafted in a single tree. 

He has also published a book ‘Mango in India’ in which he talks about, for example, the origin of mangoes, colors of mangoes, particular qualities of different types of mangoes such as ‘Suvarnarekha’, ‘Bangalora’, ‘Dashehari’, ‘Neelum’, ‘Manjeera’ and ‘Mahmooda Vikarabad’ and different types of grafting.

 The book is available in three languages: English, Telugu and Urdu. 

Currently, he is the President of Hyderabad Mango Growers Association and a board member of Agricultural & Agro Industry Committee, the Federation of Andhra Pradesh Chambers of Commerce & Industry.

His close connections with the late Nizam of Hyderabad gave him access to achieving much more.

 He met with King Saud of Saudi Arabia (1965) when he paid a visit to Nizam upon his first arrival in India and he presented mangoes to the King.

Further, when US President George Bush visited India, Sabir Patel, a member of Acharya Agricultural University at that time, presented him with a mango from his tree that is grafted with 27 types of mangoes.

Nicknamed as “The King of Mangoes” — a title given to him by the Nizam — he participates as an advisor for all mango exhibitions that are held across various parts of India.

Sabir Patel spoke to Saudi Gazette in an exclusive interview and shared some of his views on mangoes.

“No fruit in this world can be compared to a Mango. Mango is called the King of fruit for the characteristics it possesses and holds significance in Indian history. In the olden days, Hindus used to decorate the front door of their houses with mango leaves on all auspicious occasions. Also they used to give mangoes as a gift to their visitors to make them feel as royal guests at home. During funerals, they used mango leaves and twigs for cremation, as they believed it ascended the soul of the dead into paradise.
Today, the wood of mango trees is used to make furniture. Unlike teak wood, which is hard and robust, the wood of mango is hard but tensile and light. Further, oil is extracted from the seed of mango, which is then used for the production of soaps and hydrocarbons like petrochemicals,”
said Mr. Patel.

He started experimenting with mangoes because the fruit has been a part of his life. He inherited the business of mango grafting and making jam and pickles from his ancestors.
“My forefathers who migrated from Turkistan are known to be the biggest landlords, so we have nearly 1000 acres of land and we do a lot of agriculture business. Now I have 400 gardens (300 acres of mango orchard) in Zaheerabad, Andhra Pradesh. In fact I’m following the family tradition of Patels,” said Mr. Patel.

Gradually, he became the top exporter of mangoes. Mr. Patel recalls,
“I remember, when I presented mangoes to US President George Bush — he was amazed at how he didn’t find any of these delicious mangoes in the US. He mentioned that only Mexico mangoes were available there. So we reached an agreement to export mangoes to the US and thereafter my family and I started exporting mangoes along with other perishables to 32 countries in the name of Sabir Patel enterprises.”

Now the spring season has arrived and mangoes are about to fall ripened from the trees. But how do we trust and buy a mango from a market these days? Are they free of chemicals?
“In the olden days we used to get good varieties of ripened mangoes and they used to be really sweet but today things have changed, most importantly, the climate has changed. In the past, the mango growers would wait for the mangoes to ripen a little and then make them fall onto the grass to further ripen them naturally but today the mangoes sold are carbide ripened which is obviously harmful to our health.” said Mr. Patel. “However, I assure you that the mangoes I grow are organic, of good quality, ripened naturally and tastes fresh,” he added.

It is quite interesting to know that the mango trees can exist for a longer period of time without water. “There are trees that can stay up to 1000 years and there is a mango tree that can grow up to 6000 feet above the sea level. But these trees normally take 5 years to blossom, some even more. On the other hand, the grafted trees can give us mangoes within 3 years though they last for a shorter span of time,” said Mr. Patel.

He added,
“A maximum of 100 varieties of mangoes can be grafted into a single tree but the number that can be grafted depends on the process of its development — fertilizers, medicines and water must be provided as required.”

What the future holds for these mango trees is unpredictable. Deforestation is the current issue that must be taken seriously, discussed and tackled by the youth. 

The new generation must be careful enough to protect these genetic species of plants and trees. Mr. Patel agreed and said, “Hybrid varieties are losing sheen due to creeping urbanization, lack of subsidies and the possibility of less grafting (as the trees are getting old). There is no proper help given to grow the orchards that used to be provided before — the freedom, the care and the money which were given to them during the Raja, Maharaja days, are not available now. So I cannot say if the future can be seen as very bright but we are still are carrying on with our conservation. We are working hard and hoping for a better tomorrow.”

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Come this summer pamper your loved ones abroad with a box of delicious mangoes through DHL’s Express Easy Mango service, a unique one-stop-shop and hassle-free service for gifting mangoes all across the world.

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