Mango season months away, but growers worry about export prospects amid pandemic

A senior officer of the Maharashtra State Agricultural Marketing Board (MSAMB) said a few options are being worked out in case the inspector is not able to come here.

Ahead of the official start of India’s mango export season, uncertainty looms large over the prospect of Indian produce making its way to the US coast via exports. As the Covid-19 pandemic rages on, questions are now being raised on whether the phytosanitary inspector from the US would be able to reach India before the start of the export season.

Before Indian mangoes can be sent to the USA, a phytosanitary inspector from the country has to be present to check the fruits. US import norms mandate that the fruit should be irradiated before making its way to overseas markets. The inspector, who is stationed at Vashi’s wholesale market, chooses fruits in random and cuts them open to identify pests like stone-borer etc. Usually, the inspector arrives before the start of the export season in April-May.

A senior officer of the Maharashtra State Agricultural Marketing Board (MSAMB) said a few options are being worked out in case the inspector is not able to come here. “The inspection can be held on camera, with the US inspector watching it in real time, or the irradiated mango can be shipped out to the USA where it can be checked,” said the officer.

Officers and exporters are not very enthusiastic about the option given by US authorities, who have proposed that the mangoes be shipped out and post inspection in US, be irradiated.

“In case of batch failure, it would be a colossal loss for the exporter,” said the officer.

USA is an important market for Indian mangoes. Despite the pandemic, India had exported 49,658.67 tonnes of the fruit in the last fiscal. Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Karnataka are major exporting states in the country, with Maharashtra’s Hapus a prized fruit in export markets.

This season, farmers and traders expect a good crop of mango, which will hit the markets later than usual. The sudden spell of cold has been conducive for second flowering and thus a bumper crop is in the offing. The arrival is expected to start from April onwards.

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