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Costs kill US push on mangoes

world Updated: Jul 06, 2011 23:52 IST
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During a visit to Pakistan almost a year ago, secretary of state Hillary Clinton said she hoped Americans would soon enjoy eating the country’s “delicious” mangoes thanks to US assistance.

Now these prospective American mango eaters look to go hungry.

The US Agency for International Development has spent $3.1 million to help Pakistani mango growers get their fruits ready for export, and the US government has overturned a ban on imports of Pakistani mangoes. But high transportation costs and strict regulations mean that few mangoes are likely to make the transatlantic trip this year, and the USAID project will target European markets instead.

“There is little chance of commercial exports of mangoes from Pakistan to the US increasing significantly,” USAID said in a recent document.

Mangoes have long been used by local politicians to woo voters and by Pakistani leaders to smooth relations with their Indian counterparts. So it’s no surprise that US officials saw opportunities in the king of fruits.

Richard Holbrooke, the late special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, had made a habit of eating local mangoes, which he called “the best in the world, without offending other mango producers,” in a veiled reference to India, the world’s leading producer of the fruit.

( In exclusive partnership with The Washington Post. For more, log on to www.washingtonpost.com )