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Senior labour MP Keith Vaz on Tuesday delivered the 'last box' of Alphonso mangoes to 10 Downing Street in the hope that Prime Minister David Cameron will enjoy the succulent fruit and help lift the European Union ban on Indian mangoes and some vegetables from Thursday.
As thousands of Indian-origin people and others faced the prospect of going through the summer without their favourite mango, a series of meetings are taking place in London and Brussels to resolve the issue.
However, with India in election mode, such efforts may not lead to lifting of the ban before Thursday. The Indian High Commission here has been in touch with British authorities on the issue.
Industry sources told HT that Pakistan, which is another major exporter of mangoes, is "moving fast" to fill the gap in the market caused by the ban on Indian mangoes. Pakistan is upgrading its quality control systems and bringing forward its supply chains, they said.
As signatories to an e-petition on the government website rose to over 1,000, Uday Dholakia, chairman of the National Asian Business Association, said: "There is no substitute for Alphonso mangoes".
Vaz, who tabled an 'early day motion' in the House of Commons, urging the Cameron government to lift the ban and to work with Indian authorities to continue to support "this important trade", was joined by businessmen from Leicester when he delivered the 'last box' of Alphonso mangoes to Cameron.
Vaz said: "David Cameron has visited India more often than any other prime minister in recent memory. He has been a champion of this special relationship. I hope that this last box of mangoes, which we have delivered to him, will remind him of the popularity of this fruit and of its huge value to bilateral trade. It is urgent that he puts an action plan together".
He added: "I am sure the prime minister will agree that these mangoes are not only delicious, but also are a key part of people's livelihoods. We need to explain to the EU why it is wrong and why it should have worked with India. The ban is being imposed in the middle of the Indian general election. We look to Cameron to take action on this issue and hope the problem will be resolved speedily."
The EU ban was announced on March 26.