Alphonso fights bitter battle against Karnataka mangoes in Maharashtra

Rahul Wadke Mumbai | Updated on May 09, 2019 Published on May 09, 2019

Alphonso mangoes   -  THE HINDU

Mislabelled ‘lesser’ variants sold to unsuspecting buyers at exorbitant rates

The Alphonso mangoes grown in the Konkan region of Maharashtra, among the few Indian farm products to enjoy a Geographic Indicators (GI) tag, is fighting an uphill battle in the wholesale and retail markets. Similar looking mangoes sourced from Karnataka have flooded the market, and are being mislabelled and sold as Alphonso mangoes.

This practice is eating into the margins of the local farmers. The Maharashtra State Agriculture Marketing Board (MSAMB) has asked all the market yards controlled by Agriculture Produce Market Committees (APMCs) across the State to keep mislabelling and mis-selling practices in check.

Last October, the Alphonso mangoes grown in the coastal Konkan districts of Thane, Palghar, Raigad, Sindhudurg and Ratnagiri received the GI tag from the Geographical Indication Registry of India for their unique taste and aroma.About 1.5 lakh hectares are under mango cultivation in the five districts. Violation of Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999, attracts a jail term of six months and ₹50,000 in penalty.

Vivek Bhide, horticulturist and chief of the Konkan Hapus Amba Utpadak Ani Vikrate Sangh, said a crate of original Alphonso, consisting of about 60 mangoes, is sold at ₹1,000-1,200. A similar quantity from Karnataka goes for ₹300-400. Traders mix one Alphonso mango — to capture the aroma — with four of its Karnataka cousins and sell them all as Alphonsos.

A similar practice happens with mango pulp exports, said Bhide.

“You can imagine the economic benefits to the large traders from such a mixing of mangoes. At the end of the day, the farmer suffers because he does not get the right price, and the consumer, because he is not getting what he has paid for,” he added.

In Maharashtra, Alphonsos are sold by the crate in wholesale markets and by the dozen in retail markets. It is an age-old practice.

Rohan Ursal, a trader from APMC Pune, observed that mango arrivals from Karnataka have been huge this season. For every crate of Alphonsos, three crates of Karnataka mangoes land at the Pune market, he said.

Kedar Lele, a mango trader from Navi Mumbai’s APMC marketyard, said consumers go by what the traders say, and have no way of checking the authenticity of the fruit. They are more keen to buy the fruit at a lower rate, he added.

To move APEDA

Since mango pulp is also often ‘mixed’, Bhide said, his organisation plans to approach the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA).

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Published on May 09, 2019
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