It is a ripe war of tastes — where the natives are pitted against the ‘exotic.’

Varieties such as Alphoso and Kalpadi are facing a stiff competition from lesser-known native mangoes at this year’s National Honey and Mango Fest, which got to a start at the Kanakakunnu Palace grounds here on Thursday.

Minister for Agriculture K.P. Mohanan inaugurated the 10-day event here. Mangoes from Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh will be up for sale at the festival jointly hosted by the State Horticulture Mission and Horticorp. The visitors are welcomed by an exhibition hall displaying many varieties of mangoes and honey products.

One can walk into the stalls and sales counters then. Wilson from Kollam is not hesitant to cut pieces of the local ‘kappa’ mango and give it to visitors, urging them to taste it before buying.

“This is a local variety and is sweeter than most of the other mangoes. But very few people are aware of this variety. The festival will also provide an opportunity for the public to understand the different varieties of locally grown mangoes,” he says.

The commonly sought-after varieties are Neelam, Varikka, Kalappadi, Moovandan, and Sindooram. But the visitors to the stalls were willing to try lesser-known ones such as Chandanakara, Kappa, Choopi, and Puttu.

“Only once a year do we get to see so many types of mangoes together. These will never be available after this fest. So as a mango lover, I would definitely want to try the new ones too,” says S. Hemalatha who never misses the yearly event.

Chandrakkaran, Nambiar maanga, Chakkarakutti, Kottoorkonam, Kilichundan, Pharangiladuva are the other varieties from the State that are on display. Jahangir, Daseri, Selam, Banglora, Banganapalli, and Mallika varieties have come from other southern States.

Specially grafted mango tree saplings developed by Kurian K. George have many takers. Visitors can also choose from an array of honey products such as rubber honey, sunflower honey, garlic honey, drumstick honey, and ginger honey.