Indian mango growers set sights on US market

Mango growers in India are hoping to increase the volume of exports of their produce to the United states; last year 271 metric tonnes were exported, this year, officials hope the figure will go up to 400 tonnes. The mangoes are treated at a US approved irradiation facility in Lasalgaon before they are exported.

Till a decade ago, Indian mangoes were banned from the US market for a period of 17 years over fears that pests would be imported via the fruit.

It was only in March 2006 that the then US President George W Bush during his India visit signed an agreement allowing the import of Indian mangoes to the country.

India cultivates mangoes on nearly 220,000 hectares and has production in the range of 19.51 million tonnes. It accounts for nearly 40 per cent of the total mango production in the world. Nearly 30 varieties of mangoes are grown in India, with Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka having the highest production.

Despite this, India exports only 43,000 MT mangoes, which accounts for 0.2 per cent of the total production.

The major five importing countries of Indian mangoes are UAE, Bangladesh, UK, Saudi Arabia, and Nepal.

Interestingly, in spite of the high returns that the US market gives, exports to the country did not increase when the ban on Indian markets was lifted.

Officials at Krushi Utpadan Sanrakshan Kendra (KRUSHAK), the irradiation centre, however, said they hoped to export 400 tonnes to the US this year.

“The US market would fetch an exporter four times the price of any other country. Last year, the price fetched per tonne of exports was Rs 70,360. In the US, it was Rs 255,000. It is the fear of maintaining standards that is keeping Indians away from this market,” said a Maharashtra State Agriculture Management Board official.

The irradiation plant set up at a cost of Rs 80 million in 2002 was initially meant to treat onions. The members of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the United States agriculture department subsequently visited the plant and gave the go-ahead for the facility’s compliance for mangoes too.

The facility has a processing capacity of 1 tonne every hour and charges Rs 500 to irradiate every tonne of mango.

“Varieties like Alphonso are too sweet for the palate of Americans. It is Kesar that sells in those markets. A single Kesar fetches close to a dollar,” said Shirish Jain, a Gujarat-based exporter of Indian mangoes.

(1 Indian Rupee=0.015 USD)

Source: indianexpress.com

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