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Indian mango shortage expected


ALTERNATIVES: Bad weather affects harvest but other varieties of the fruit still available

KUALA LUMPUR: THE shortfall in the  Indian mango harvest will  mean that  local fans will have to turn to other varieties of the fruit.   And Malaysians will still have lots of choice fruits to turn to next month, which is the time Indian mangos arrive here.

Long time fruit trader, Caleb Cheng Yaw Hing told the New Straits Times even though Indian mangoes were often in demand during the season, consumers would usually settle with local or other imported varieties which were available throughout the year as well as cheaper and easier to get.

However, a recent report by an English daily in India revealed that this year's mango harvest had decreased between 30 and 40 per cent in all types of mangos, prompting a threefold price hike in India.

Accordingly, the mango season in India has been delayed this year because of adverse weather conditions throughout the country.

Cheng said even if the price of Indian mangoes here were to increase, there would be customers who would fork out more just to taste the soft flesh of the tropical fruit.

Hailed as the 'king of fruits' in India, the mangoes are harvested in many parts of the country, including Talala and Saurashtra in Gujarat, and Krishnagiri and Dharmapuri in Tamil Nadu.

With more than a third of the world's mangoes cultivated in India alone, there are hundreds of mango varieties. But only a few are considered to have commercial value.

"Indian mangoes has its unique market and will always be in demand irrespective of the price. Some people can afford to pay, and some can't. So, they might buy local mangos or Thai mangoes, as these are available almost all the time and cheaper," said Cheng, who owns a shop in Jalan Telawi in Bangsar, here.

He explained that different countries harvest mangoes at different times of the year.

"While the season for Indian mangoes starts in May and ends in June, mango season in Pakistan starts immediately after and lasts for a month. Australian mango season would be in November and December, whereas Thailand produces mangoes for almost the whole year," he said.

Despite rumours of a possible price hike, many traders said they were waiting for the fruit to arrive before deciding on the price.

"It would depend on the quality and quantity of the fruits and we hope that the price would not be sky-high," said a fruit importer and distributor who wanted only to be known as Lilian.

"Although the price can go up to RM50 for a 5kg box, if the rumours are true, the price would eventually decrease towards the end of the season."

Lilian said the purchasing power of customers should be taken into consideration -- if the price went up, people would look for alternatives.

The season for Indian mangoes is limited -- only two months a year -- so there is demand from all over the world.

India is the largest mango exporter in the world and the Alphonso mango is considered by many to be one of the best because of its sweetness, richness and flavour. It is cultivated in many parts of India, including Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.

English daily The Indian Express quoted Junagadh Agriculture University Horticulture Department head R.S. Choratia on the effect of the adverse weather on the growth of mangoes.

"Prolonged winter, which continued till March 31, first affected the flowering in mango trees adversely and then the setting of fruits, the subsequent large variation in day and night temperatures had caused the fruits to drop from the trees.

"The vegetative growth on the plants owing to temperature variation again affected the growth of fruits that had somehow survived. All this would finally affect the quantity and also the quality," he said.

The shortage of Indian mangoes might mean customers would turn to Thai mangoes, which are available throughout the year.

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