Indian growers act quickly on EU mango ban withdrawal
Preparations are already underway in India as the mango sector celebrates the early lifting of the Europe-wide embargo on one of the country's most profitable and well-loved fruits. At www.freshfruitportal.com, we spoke with a range of people from India's export sector who were in a jubilant mood over the European Commission's (EC) decision on Jan. 20 to ease the ban that was originally set to run until December this year.
Growers are particularly pleased because the withdrawal of restrictions should fall perfectly for the start of India's 2015 season.
"We all celebrated yesterday when we heard the news from Europe. It is a very good feeling knowing that Indian mangoes will once again be supplied to Europe which is such an important market for us," D K Sharma of the Mango Association of India told www.freshfruitportal.com.
"The timing is good because we can all start our preparations for this season.
"We didn’t want to go through this again."
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Commerce and Industry of India said Minister Nirmala Sitharaman was out of the country at the time but would have been extremely happy about the news.
"We welcome the easing of this ban and look forward to resuming mango exports to the European Union," he said.
"I understand there needs to be official work behind the scenes at the European Commission over the coming weeks to make sure all documentation and paperwork is correct and then officially exports can begin again."
The EU accounts for more than 50% of total exports of fruits and vegetables from India, with the U.K. being the main destination followed by the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium.
According to data from the British High Commission in New Delhi, Mangifera (the genus for mango) exports from India to the EU have steadily grown since 2011 when 2,995 metric tons (MT) were supplied, followed by 3,060MT in 2012 and 3,933MT in 2013.
British High Commissioner to India Sir James Bevan was involved in helping the Indian sector improve plant health controls and for trade to resume.
"The British Government worked hard to have the ban lifted. This includes sending an expert to provide technical training, prior to the EU inspection in September," he said in a statement sent to www.freshfruitportal.com.
"This is great news for the UK-India and EU-India trade relationship and especially for Indian exporters and UK consumers.
"We are pleased to have played an important role in bringing the ban to an end."
Meanwhile, the BBC has interviewed one mango grower who specializes in Alphonso cultivation and who last year suffered major financial damage due to the EU embargo.
In the report, the grower from Ratnagiri in Maharashtra, said exports to the EU usually made up half of his profits and last year he only managed to sell a dozen (12) mangoes for US$20 but this price was half of what the fruit would normally command before the ban was imposed.
"Because of the losses I made last year, I could not even manage to buy fertilizer for my farm," he told the BBC.
"I have got around 800 mango trees and I had to borrow money just to maintain them so it has really affected my livelihood."