Issue taken up after a series of seizures of mangoes across State
Small scale mango growers and traders of this district have urged the State government and health department to formulate norms to artificially ripen mangoes without causing health hazards to the consumers. They have taken up the issue following a series of seizures of mangoes across the State after they were artificially ripened using carbide stones.
“Municipal food inspectors and sanitary workers as well as officials of the health department should enlighten us (farmers and traders) on good trade practices and on ethical ways of ripening before taking action on us by destroying the artificially ripened fruits,” a mango grower of Senthamangalam said.
Statistics from the Horticulture Department indicate that nearly 1,500 small and medium scale farmers are growing mango on an area of 2,568 hectares in this district. With an average production of 4.1 metric tons per hectare (annually) the total production is around 10,528 metric tons.
G. Ajeethan a farmer of Mohanur near Namakkal felt that the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University should take up research on artificial ripening of mangoes in short time frames without affecting the consumers.
Former Agriculture Minister Veerapandi S. Arumugam laid the foundation stone for the construction of four artificial banana ripening units worth Rs. 2 crore – including one in Mohanur – in January this year. Mr. Veerapandi also explained that ethylene would be passed in a gaseous form to ripen the bananas.
Quoting the Minister who claimed that this method was harmless for the consumers, Mr. Ajeethan questioned how fair it was on the part of the health officials to seize mangoes that were ripened by farmers in Karur using the same methodology, recently.
Farmers here urged the newly-formed State government to build similar artificial ripening units for the benefit of poorly facilitated small and medium scale mango growers and traders. “But till then the government should prescribe a feasible method of artificial ripening which is harmless to consumers as well,” they added.
Deputy Director of Horticulture (in-charge) R. Kathiravan toldThe Hinduthat till date no mode of artificial ripening of mangoes was accepted or even proved to be harmless to ripen the yellow fruit. He felt that many farmers opted for artificial ripening as the process would be completed in a day against about a week taken for natural ripening.
He was of the opinion that farmers should allow the fruits to fully grow in the tree before plucking them for the conventional airtight ripening mode that would take about three days, than opting for any unauthorised artificial methodologies.
Officials say there is no mode of artificial ripening of mangoes that is accepted to be harmless