India eyes new markets for its ‘king of fruits’

NEW DELHI: India, the world’s largest mango maker, is set for a big push to sell its succulent “king of fruits” to countries like Japan and the United States, officials say.

The mango is inhabitant to India, which grows 12mn tones of the fruit, more than half the world’s output.

But India’s exports amount to just 7% of the world mango deal, according to government figures.

“It’s almost negligible – peanuts,” said A S Rawat, from the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA).

But APEDA expects Indian mango exports to go up sharply in the next year, and has been operational hard to open up markets like Japan and the United States.

“You can safely presume a 50% (rise) next year,” S Dave, the export group’s director, said.

His hopefulness is based in part on what appears to be rehabilitated interest in both the United States and Japan for the mango.

“The United States is looking forward to eating Indian mangoes,” US President George W Bush said on a visit to India in March in what was dubbed “mango diplomacy” by the Indian media.

Right now India exports about 65,000 tones of mangoes, up from now under 50,000 tones five years ago, typically to Europe and the Middle East. It began selling to China two years ago.

“Definitely we need to increase (shipments) . we have a niche product and people know our varieties,” Rawat said.

But with more than 1,000 varieties of mangoes, in dissimilar hues, shapes, sizes, it hardly seems likely that foreign consumers can be acquainted with all of them.

Meanwhile, a group from the United States Department of Agriculture is arriving this week to work out technological issues, US embassy spokesman David Kennedy said.

“I think it’s hopeful,” said Kennedy. “We’re working on it with the regulatory authorities.”

Kennedy will not comment on when American consumers may be able to buy Indian mangoes, but Dave, of the Indian export group, said he expected it to happen by next year. -AFP

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