It is that time of the year again when the king of fruits is back in demand. Mumbaikars can now buy the Alphonso online, directly from farmers in Devgad and Ratnagiri in Maharashtra. One of the first organisations to go solo with the sales was the Devgad Taluka Amba Utpadak Sahakari Sanstha Ltd (DTAUSS). The 25-year-old co-operative society is made up of 700 farmers from Devgad Taluka, all growing the Devgad Alphonso mango.
“Since we are a co-operative society of Devgad mango farmers, only the Devgad Alphonso is available on our website. It is a premium variety because of its superior taste and aroma. The rates differ every season because they are decided by market demand-supply and cost of production,” says Omkar Sapre, member of the board and chief marketing officer, DTAUSS, adding that the season has just started and so far the production looks average.Problems are on the rise too. Due to reduction in subsidy on pesticides and fertilisers, their prices have increased, there is a shortage of adequate manpower to work on the fields, an increase in pests and lack of effective pesticides. "Since the tsunami of 2004, we have not seen a stable climate. It rains when it should be warm and gets cold when it should rain," says Adv Ajit Gogate, chairman, DTAUSS.
The co-operative society is currently in the process of putting up a factory from where customers will be able to buy mango pulp, pickles, drinks, barfis and wadis directly.
Similarly, another organisation, AAR Mangoes works towards providing consumers mangoes directly from Ratnagiri. Grown on 40 acres of land on more than 2,000 trees, they are couriered and distributed to various parts of Maharashtra, including Mumbai, Kolhapur and Nashik.
“We only grow the Alphonso and the going rate this season ranges from R500 to R1,200 per dozen. The season has been average, and climate change has taken a toll on the fruit,” says Ganesh Ranade, a mango farmer.
Ask if the fruit they market is cheaper in comparison to what is available in the market and we are told that it is not possible. “We arrive 20 days late. That is because we do not artificially ripen our mangoes. They are organic. So due to the time lag, our products are 20 per cent more expensive than what is available at that time in the market,” says Ranade.
AAR Mangoes also offer mango tourism facilities. On packages of different rates, one can head to Ratnagiri, enjoy rural life for a few days and hog on mangoes. “We also make mango pulp in limited quantities,” says Ranade.
Spot the difference
Naturally ripened mangoes have a natural aroma that is noticeable from a distance. Chemically ripened mangoes are devoid of such a smell.
The mangoes should look and feel soft. Chemically ripened mangoes are yellow, yet hard.
Observe the colour. Naturally-ripened mangoes have uneven colouring in yellows and green.
Many people feel that if mangoes show wrinkles, they are good. Mangoes will show wrinkles if they are overripe.
Mature mangoes develop a slight trough near the stem, enough to hold a drop of water or stop it from sliding down. Immature mangoes do not have that trough.
You could also call the AAR Mangoes representative in Mumbai on 96192 46419.