Mumbai

Alphonsos from Malawi, for Mumbai

Tasting success: African alphonsos in Navi Mumbai on Tuesday.

Tasting success: African alphonsos in Navi Mumbai on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: The Hindu

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A small venture to graft the special variety on a 26-hectare farm in Africa now exports 700 boxes a day.

It is not summer, but there are almost-fresh Alphonso mangoes in Mumbai’s retail shops. They smell and taste almost like the Devgad alphonso, but come from distant Africa. Mangoes from Malawi have hit the market in Maharashtra’s capital.

The alphonso trees in Malawi took root in a farm some nine years back, when mango sticks from Ratnagiri were grafted and a new venture launched. The farm is now spread across 600 hectares, and began exporting the produce to India last year. “In 2018, the import of mangoes was small, since it was the first time. This time, around 700 boxes a day are expected to arrive, starting Tuesday. All big retailers are purchasing them, as they liked the quality last year,” Sanjay Pansare, a trader in the APMC fruit market, said.

Different seasons

The mangoes from the African nation have a ready reception here as both India and Malawi have different harvest windows. “Indian mangoes are not available during October to December, but mangoes are harvested in Malawi during that period. Indian alphonsos arrive from January through August from various parts of the southern and Konkan areas of Maharashtra,” Mr. Pansare said.

“The African venture, Malawi Mangoes Operations, was started by British, German and African promoters. They planted the mango sticks by grafting them on 26 hectares first, and it has grown into a 600-hectare farm,” Niranjan Sharma, who handles the firm’s operation from Pune, said. The organisation has around 800 employees. Each imported box has 3 kg of mangoes, priced between ₹1,400 and ₹2,000.

Absence of direct flights from Malawi has an impact: a kilo incurs around ₹200 in freight. The import duty is about 38%, adding to the cost. “Quality wise, they meet European norms as they go through hot water treatment. The sand and weather in Malawi are similar to what we have in Maharashtra, making the fruit taste almost like Indian ones,” Mr. Pansare said.

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Printable version | Dec 8, 2019 4:04:48 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/alphonsos-from-malawi-for-mumbai/article29956064.ece

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