MANGO: A DELICIOUS FRUIT

DR.S.M.ALAM
Mar 30 - Apr 05, 2009

The mango (Mangifera indica) is the most famous fruit of the country and belongs to the family "Anacardiaceae". Mango is held in high esteem all over the world and is considered to be native of Indo-Pakistan sub-continent and eastern Asia. It is found in nearly all over the tropical regions of the world. Mango is known as a "The King" of all fruits.

In Pakistan, the cultivation of this fruit is as old as the civilization of this tract. Pakistan is on the 4th place in the mango producing countries of the world. Some of the main mango producing countries of the world are (in million tons): India16, China 3.1, Mexico 2.3, Pakistan 2.0, Thailand 1.25, Philippines 1.1, Indonesia 0.75, Brazil 0.68, and Egypt 0.33. Pakistan occupies an important position for growing world's best mango varieties, although yield in country is as low as 950 metric tons per hectare as against India 12,000, China 2162, and Sri Lanka 1375.

Mango fruits have rich sources of vitamins, A, B, C and D. Mangoes also contain substantial amount of proteins, sugars, organic acids, fats, calcium, phosphorus, fiber and iron. Mangoes according to latest scientific research as well as of folk wisdom are known to increase the body resistance against dysentery, cholera, and tuberculosis.

It is a natural tonic for fragile and physiologically weak children. Eating mangoes by women in pregnancy helps birth of a fair color and healthy children. It also increases lactation. The old adage an apple a day keeps the doctor away is equally valid for mango. It has some unique quality of taste, color, and dietary value.

According to our local tradition, raw mango seasoned with a pinch of salt quenches thirst and loss of iron in the body, which occurs due to excessive sweating during the sizzling summer. It has also been reported that leaves, bark, gum, fruit, and seed stone all have their respective values.

Mango per capita consumption is about 6.8 kg annually. Mango ice cream, mango milk shake, and squash are favorite desserts world over. Mango juice pulp, jelly, chutney, jam marmalade, and pickles are manufactured by good industries in the country.

PRODUCTION IN PAKISTAN

Mango is a water-intensive fruit tree, requiring a lot of water to grow in hot summer months preceding the monsoons. In Pakistan, mango trees are grown mainly in the Punjab (67%) and Sindh (33%).

Multan in Punjab & Mirpurkhas in Sindh are the main regions, where we get mangoes in large quantity. There are many varieties which are famous in Pakistan, but some varieties which are very common are Sindhri, Langra, Chaunsa, Fajri, Samar Bahisht, Anwar Ratol, Dasehri, Saroli, Tuta Pari, Neelam, Maldah, Collector, Bengan Phali, etc.

Mango prefers rich and fertile soils, because of its tap root system. Soil type and cultural practices such as addition of right amount of fertilizers, farm yard manures, spray of insecticides, and deep plowing of orchards are very important for a good harvest. Some of the important mango diseases are fruit fly, mango hopper, mango mealy bug, powdery mildew, and scab fruit rot. Preventive measure is necessary to control the diseases.

As mango is named as "King of the Fruits" similarly, Sindhri is said to be "The King of Mangoes", because this variety is top in taste and flavor in the country. Although, Pakistan produces about 2.0 million tons per year, in export Pakistan is quite far behind with other countries. It exported about 50,000 tons of mangoes in the different countries of the world.

Until 1950s, the mango cultivation was rather scanty and a lot of commodity used to come from India through travelers.

However, in the beginning of 1960s some landlords brought strains from India and grafted them in Pakistan. Over due course of time, Pakistan overtook India in mango cultivation and right now produces superior varieties, eaters of which are not only limited to the domestic market.

The chief market of Pakistan mangoes is the Middle Eastern countries such as Dubai, Qatar, Saudi Arab, Jordan, Syria, Oman, Yemen, and Lebanon. Pakistan also exports mangoes to other countries, like Singapore, South Korea, Denmark, Norway, Germany, France, Italy, Holland, Switzerland, Japan, US, and Canada etc. Pakistan's export is quite low as compared to other countries of the world.

Unfortunately the export of this fruit is facing an endless struggle on account of tough competition from other Asian countries mainly India and Latin America. Brazil has now come into the field. There could be many reasons for exports slowdown. One of these reasons lies in the traditional manner of crop production and half hearted research efforts. We should never forget that the buyers in the world market are not just interested in prices but they also want good presentation. We have to constantly watch for trends, choices and preferences of the buyers in the world markets. Apart from this, the processing should be made with the latest machines and packing should not only be fancy and eye catching but durable. It should ensure that the fruit would not rot in transit and that the quality would not diminish in the process. According to the study conducted by International Trade Center in Geneva, Switzerland about 30% of the food export of all over developing countries almost perishes before it reaches to the foreign market.

This is because of the defective packing therefore we have to improve it by all means to get more foreign exchange from other countries and by exporting them good quality of mangoes. Infrastructure development like establishment of cold storage facilities at country's ports will go a long way in helping to develop Pakistan as a quality mango exporter. There still much needs to be done on the front line of particularly packing, branding, and quality control. It has been reported that million of dollars worth mangoes go in wastage due to shortage of cold storages. The higher authority should pay serious attention to overcome this anomaly.