US tastes Indian mangoes after 18 years


Washington : The US has received its first consignment of Indian mangoes after 18 years.

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At a mango festival hosted at the US-India Business Council (USIBC) headquarters here Tuesday, US Trade Representative Susan Schwab and Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns each received from India’s Ambassador Ronen Sen the first gift baskets of ripe Indian mangoes.

Amid smiles and applause, an Indian chef, Ramesh, cut into the first Alphonso mango and Sen shared cubes of the golden fruit with Schwab and Johanns, who have been instrumental in enabling Indian mangoes to enter US markets once again.

“US willingness to purchase Indian mangoes is another important step towards deeper engagement and more robust US-India trade,” USIBC president Ron Somers said at the ‘Mango Celebration’ event.

“As our commercial and strategic partnership deepens, two-way trade will soon reach new levels, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs in India and thousands of jobs here at home,” he said.

The US had banned import of Indian mangoes in 1989 over problems with pests such as fruit flies and weevils.

However, US President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh signed a deal in New Delhi during the former’s visit to India in March 2006 to promote trade in agriculture, which then paved the way for export of mangoes from India to the US again.

India is the world’s largest producer of mangoes – 12 million tonnes harvested each year – but accounts for less than one percent of the global mango trade.

The US’ taste for mangoes is growing, but it is 99 percent dependent on imports, mostly from Mexico and South America at 250,000 metric tonnes a year valued at $156 million.

In 2005-06, India exported 58,000 tonnes of mangoes to neighbours in Asia and Europe.

“USIBC salutes India’s farmers and the Indian agricultural community, and extends its heartfelt congratulations on this joyous occasion of the first mango consignment reaching Washington DC,” Somers said.

“USIBC congratulates the Bush Administration for making this happen, and welcomes US Trade Representative Susan Schwab’s sincere efforts to successfully conclude Doha and deepen Indo-US trade,” he added.