The sudden ban on import of Indian mangos by the European Union has hit hard the farmers of Maharashtra, renowned for the luscious Alphonso and other varieties which are in great demand worldwide. “The ban effective for two seasons till December 2015, subject to a review, will mean losses of at least Rs.50-60 crores for Maharashtra farmers alone,” Federation of Associations of Maharashtra president M.Gurnani said. The ban on Indian mangoes and certain other vegetables ostensibly due to concerns over pests and insects, imposed last week by the EU’s Standing Committee on Plant Health last week, has come at the start of the best crop of Alphonso mango which has started flooding the state markets since the middle of April.
“This ban, coupled with the recent crop losses due to inclement weather conditions in the state, will add further to the farming community woes… The centre must immediately intervene,” said leading mango exporter Balasaheb Bhende. Bhende said that since the past few days, the main wholesale mango markets in Navi Mumbai are being flooded with thousands of crates of the fruit, but with few takers. “With demand suddenly falling and supply remaining steady, the prices have taken a sharp plunge, hitting the farming community,” added Gurnani. The Alphonso Mango, sold in the retail markets of Mumbai between Rs.800-1,400 per dozen, has now slid to less than half the price, depending on the size and quality. An Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) official said that on an average, India exports around 55,000 tonnes of mangos annually to various countries worth nearly Rs.2.75 billion. The chief markets are the Arabian Gulf, Britain, Europe and US, besides smaller quantities consumed in many other countries where NRIs are based.
Bhende dismissed EU’s reasons. “We are already following the procedures as required by them and there has been no health problem for the past so many years. The reason is something else and the government must take immediate steps to get the ban revoked,” he urged. Alphonso Mango leads the pack of Indian mangoes in great demand globally with Kesar, Totapuri and other varieties also enjoyed by NRIs and foreigners alike.