Malawi mangoes, grown in that country by a European-African firm -Malawi Mangoes Ltd-, are being marketed as “99 percent similar” to the Ratnagiri Hapus.
On Tuesday, 37-year-old Aneesh Pandey, a fruit retailer, was among a group of buyers waiting for the first consignment of mangoes from Africa at the APMC market in Vashi. When the plywood boxes finally came and were opened, the distinctive smell of Alphonso filled the air. “It is like a miracle, so many generations of children have wanted mangoes in winter, and here it is,” Pandey said.
“Around 8-10 years ago, grafts from Alphonso trees from Ratnagiri were taken and planted in Malawi, with the root stock of local mango available there over 1,400 acres,” said Niranjan Sharma, Pune-based Indian representative of Malawi Mangoes Ltd. “These fruits are almost identical to Alphonso in Maharashtra, but have a different cycle as Malawi is in the southern hemisphere.”
Sanjay Pansare, a fruit merchant from Navi Mumbai who is the wholesale seller of the fruits at APMC market, said this was the second year the fruit was imported. “Last year, the mangoes were imported for the first time. Since it was the first time, the import was around 20 tonnes. However, demand is very high and thus, this year they are going to import over 100 tonnes,” he said.
India, the home of the patented Devgad mangoes and over 40 other varieties, doesn’t allow mangoes to be imported from any and all countries, Sharma said. “However, the mango trees in Malawi have their season from mid-October to mid-December, unlike the Indian variety, which has its season from January to August. Since there’s no clash, it is a win-win situation for both countries. The Indian High Commission in Malawi helped us tremendously in getting approval,” he said.