Bihar will not be able to gift its exclusive mango variety, Zardalu, to dignitaries, including the President and the Prime Minister.
Reason: The Bhagalpur administration, which traditionally sent gift packs containing Zardalu mangoes on the state government’s behalf, feels the produce this year is not up to the mark.
Zardalu and Shahi Litchi of Muzaffarpur have been on the state government’s annual gift list for some 40 VVIPs.
Zardalu growers, as well as agriculture scientists, say nature has played a spoilsport this year. Extreme summer heat and absence of rain during the flowering period, have led to a reduced fruit size, besides deficient aroma and taste.
District magistrate Adesh T confirmed that Bhagalpur would not be able to send gift packs to dignitaries this year due to inferior quality of the produce.
Last year, 1500 gift packets, each weighing 5kg, were dispatched to dignitaries across the country, said Ashok Choudhary, a Zardalu grower of Sultanganj block, who is also the president of Bihar Mango Growers’ Federation.
Also, due to fruit bearing of mango trees hitting lows every alternate year and production dipping by 25%, Zardalu has not been able to access metropolitan markets in Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru this season, said Randhir Choudhary, secretary of the federation.
Feza Ahmad, chairman, department of horticulture (fruit), Bihar Agriculture University (BAU), Sabour said the dip in taste and Zardalu quality was possible when soil moisture was less.
A Zardalu mango usually weighs between 220gm to 250mg. This year’s produce has weighed between 170gm to 200gm due to extreme summer, even as the taste is not up to mark.
Bihar finance minister Abdul Bari Siddiqui, who was in Dubai to attend a mango festival last month, had called for export of Zardalu, a rare variety, while pointing to a huge demand for it in the Gulf.
He had said he would devise a policy with financial incentives for growers to turn exporters so that Bihar could also earn precious revenue.