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India world’s leading mango producer, but exports of Pak mangoes higher
Wednesday, 24 May, 2017, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
S Ganesan and Archana Nair
India is the largest exporter of rice in the world now. Similarly, the country must emerge as the leader in the global trade of other agricultural commodities, of which it is a major producer. To be the leader in production but a laggard in exports is economically regressive. Remember, trade leads to development.

The intent of this empirically-loaded article is to deliver a timely alert to the policy makers and all stakeholders involved in India’s mango production and trade.

Origin of mango
Mango (whose botanical name is Mangifera indica) is believed to have originated in the Indian sub-continent over 4,000 years ago.

In fact, the English name, mango, came from the Tamil word mangai.

Bhagavata Purana and Buddhist literature carry references to the fruit. Mango leaves are considered sacred, and are invariably used on all auspicious occasions in India.

Mango production
India has long been a major producer of mangoes in the world. With 18.43 million tons, India accounts for 36 per cent of the global production of 49.9 million tons.

The top ten in mango production

Rank

Country

Production (million tons)

1

India

18.43

2

China

4.67

3

Thailand

3.59

4

Indonesia

2.43

5

Mexico

1.75

6

Pakistan

1.72

7

Brazil

1.13

8

Bangladesh

0.99

9

Egypt

0.93

10

The Philippines

0.90

Total of the top ten

36.54

World production

49.9

(Source: FAO STAT for 2014)

It is heartening to see that India is the volume leader, and is way above the other countries in the production of mangoes. What, however, remains unknown and is most disheartening is that India has become a laggard in global trade of the fruit.

International trade in mango
The international trade in mangoes was very small and insignificant until the 1970s.

It has steadily grown and accelerated, especially in the past two decades.

The global export of mango is estimated to be 1.4 million tons now.

India trails other countries
The truth often hurts. Nevertheless, the truth must be brought out into the public domain for the common good.

In the year 2008-09, India exported 83,700 tons of mangoes. It has since been on a free fall, and reached a nadir of 36,329 tons in 2015-16.

During this period, however, other countries have taken a giant leap in increasing their mango exports.

The table below shows how even a small country like Pakistan has strengthened their position in the global mango trade, by doubling its exports.

Country

2014-15

2015-16

2016-17 (Target)





India

42,998

36,329

NA





Pakistan

65,311

1,27,000

2,15,000





[Sources: Agricultural and Processed Foods Export Development Authority (APEDA) India, and Ministry of Commerce, Pakistan]

Understandably, this data would unsettle most Indians who have grown with the nurtured mindset that Indian mangoes are global leaders.

Though Pakistan’s mango production is just one-tenth of India’s production, the former exports four times the latter’s exports. While the Middle East is the main market for Indian mangoes, the European Union (EU) is the main market for Pakistani mangoes.

“Efforts are under way to make Pakistan the world’s largest exporter of mangoes,” observed Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan, Pakistan’s minister for food security and research, a year ago. The country is strategically moving ahead to achieve this vision.

“Exports are expected to reach 2,15,000 tons, thanks to improvements in the packaging and training of the growers. Furthermore, some new markets have been added to the list of export destinations - Portugal, Finland, China and Russia. Japan, too, has recently opened its borders to Pakistani mangoes,” stated a recent news report.

At the global level, the growth rate of mango trade is significantly greater than that of the production.

India has not only failed to keep pace with the global trade, but has also considerably lost the traditional markets to other small countries in recent years.

India’s share of mango production in the world is 36 per cent.

But India’s share in the global trade of mango is less than three per cent.

India does not count at all in the global trade of fresh mangoes.

The stylised facts about Indian mangoes are that they are superior to others and in great demand worldwide. That is not empirically supported.

The superiority of any product should be assessed based on global sales and rank and not on our own perception.

Countries such as Mexico, Peru, Ecuador, Guatemala and Pakistan are exporting mangoes far above the level achieved by India.

India is not the king of the king of fruits. Period.

It is easy to put the blame on the strict sanitary and phytosanitary standards followed by importing countries for the falling exports from India.

When smaller countries can make tremendous progress in mango exports in spite of strict sanitary and phytosanitary standards, why not India, the largest producer of mangoes in the world?

Where there is a will, there is a way. First, the will should develop within. We need to develop a strong will to capture the global leadership in mango trade befitting India’s status as the world’s largest producer.

To set this agenda on the path and start afresh aggressively, it does require a surgical strike to end the underperforming archaic structure entrusted with the mango trade in India.

A task that should not be arduous for the present government committed to improving India’s farm economy.

(Ganesan is vice-president, corporate affairs, and Nair is manager, corporate communications, UPL Ltd, Mumbai. The latter is member, governing council, Centre for Environment and Agriculture. They can be contacted at ganesanicc@gmail.com and ccfipolicyaffairs@gmail.com.)
 
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