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Why it’s raining mangoes in Mumbai — ‘bumper crop, highest supply in 5 yrs’

Mumbai Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) has reported 3 times the influx of mangoes this March, as compared to same period last year. But things may change next month.

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Mumbai: Mango fans in Mumbai have reason to rejoice, with the city’s Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) reporting three times the influx of the fruit at the beginning of the season as compared to last March.

The primary reason for this bounty is a bumper crop due to excellent flowering, said Sanjay Pansare, director of the fruit market of the Mumbai APMC, which regulates the marketing of agricultural produce in the city.

“Such bumper production in March has not been seen in the recent past. Normally, the mango season starts in April. But this time it is unprecedented. This is the fruit of the flowering that took place in October–November,” said Pansare.

He added that this has been the highest supply that the APMC has seen in the last five years.

While most of the mangoes in question were grown in Maharashtra, stocks coming in from other states have also added to the supply.

Currently in the market, there are 32,000 boxes of mangoes — each box containing an average of five dozen fruit —  just from Maharashtra.

Apart from this, mangoes are also pouring in from Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh, currently totalling 12,000-13,000 boxes of mangoes.

“People from these states had taken mango plants (from farmers in Maharashtra) and planted them in their respective states. This process had started nearly 15 years ago and now they are also seeing good production of mangoes,” said Pansare.

Exporters are also in a buoyant mood, including Sajid Bagwan who exports premium quality mangoes, among other fruits, from Mumbai to Gulf countries.

Bagwan told ThePrint that his company usually exports 500 containers, each with 700-800 boxes, to the Gulf each season.

“This year, there are a lot of mangoes in the market. I am already done exporting 70 per cent of my quota and I am very excited about it,” he said.

He added that he usually exports only about 30 per cent of his quota at this point in the season.

However, there are some dampeners. Pointing to flowering trends, Pansare cautioned that the bumper produce seen in March may not carry through in April, although a pick-up is expected again in May.

Further, the glut of mangoes this month has pushed down prices.

Also read: Why don’t Indian fruit sellers make it big despite good profits? Imperfect competition, says study

On the downside

The high supply of mangoes this March has hit mango prices to some extent, said sources in the APMC who handle the mango market.

Normally, a box would go for Rs 7,000 at this time of the year, but currently it is down to Rs 5,000, they said.

Pansare also said that April may not see such a surfeit of mangoes.

Mango flowering normally takes place in stages. The mangoes that come in the market as early as February-March are the result of flowering that takes place in October-November.

The flowering that happens in the winter months of December-January gives fruits in April, which is considered a peak season. The last batch of flowering in in February-March, which yields fruits in May.

According to Pansare, winter flowering was affected because it was not very cold in December, which might lessen supply in April. However, the supply is expected to pick up again in May, he said.

Mumbai fruit market
Sanjay Pansare (far right) at the APMC fruit market in Mumbai | Purva Chitnis | ThePrint

Quality worry?

Alphonso mangoes, which come from the Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg side of Maharashtra’s Konkan region, are much feted as the ‘king’ among all varieties, but questions around authenticity have often come up over the years.

Locally known as hapus, there have been instances of retailers passing off other mango varieties as Alphonso.

In 2018, however, Alphonso mangoes received a GI (Geographical Indication) tag, giving consumers an assurance of quality and authenticity and also protecting the interests of farmers.

“Maharashtra and Karnataka mangoes are similar to look at physically but different in taste. The GI tag will ensure that the produce is sold using the region’s name accurately. This is the practice we follow at the wholesale APMC market at least,” Pansare said.

Another concern for consumers buying early mangoes is that they might have been chemically ripened. Pansare, however, claimed that such practices were no longer in vogue.

“This ripening of mangoes using chemicals has stopped in the last five-odd years. Only ripening chambers allowed by the government are in action now,” he said.

(Edited by Asavari Singh)

Also read: In 1955, India tried ‘mango diplomacy’ with China. The outcome wasn’t really sweet


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