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Alphonso wins over Americans in 2 years

delhi Updated: May 23, 2009 00:56 IST
Zia Haq
Zia Haq
Hindustan Times
Alphonso wins over Americans in 2 years

The crop has been bad this year, but exports are growing.

It has been that kind of a year for the Alphonso, the most expensive of the about 1,000 varieties of mangoes grown in India.

Americans have especially taken to it.

The Wal-Marts and the Nature’s Prides are lapping up full quotas of Alphonsos. They are even being ordered online.

“We are sending regular shipments,” said an official of DHL, which offers a courier service specifically for mangoes, requesting anonymity.

Mangoes had found their way back to the US last year — after a two-decade ban, over concerns about undue pesticide use, was lifted as part of a deal signed by US President George Bush during his India trip.

The deal was that the US would import Alphonsos if India agree to import Harley Davidson motorcycles.

According to the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), there has been a 60 per cent growth in the exports of mangoes in spite of a decline in production this year.

“There has been a bad Alphonso crop,” said Pranab Desai, who co-owns Aadarsh Farms, an Alphonso-exporting firm in Gujarat’s Valsad district. “The crop this year has been just 10 per cent.”

Exporting mangoes is a strictly regulated affair. Exporters have to get every mango “gamma irradiated”, a technique for sterilisation or decontamination, as required by US norms. Nasik has the country’s only US-approved gamma irradiation facility.

“Despite this, exporters are sending full quota of 1,500 boxes a day. Each box has a dozen,” Desai said.

The US imported 31.7 tonnes mangoes of various varieties in April, compared with about 20 tonnes in the corresponding month of 2008, according to APEDA estimates.

The Alphonso is said to be palatable to Western tastes because it is less sweet, is softer and lasts longer.