Sunday, March 20, 2011


Mango, the King of Fruits, is intimately associated with Indian history, culture and ethos and this country enjoyed practically a monopoly in the global market till recently. It is no more true with many other countries in South America, Asia and Africa taking up mango cultivation and shipping their produce to European and American markets. There are hundreds of variants of Mango fruit with widely varying aroma, sweetness, color, texture and sweetness. Still the gold standard is still the Alphonso variety grown in India almost exclusively. The strong aroma associated with many mango varieties is not liked very much by Westerners and the high ruling price has allowed other milder versions to get entry in the market. It is against this background one has to see the recent attempt by Ghana to entice agri-business entities from India to invest on raising orchards in that country on government allocated land that will produce prime quality fruits, probably export to Europe. As Mango is a fruit highly susceptible to physiological and microbiological spoilage within a short time of harvest, the effort must be considered as strategic since it takes much less time for travel from Africa to Europe.

"Ghana has acquired 20,000 hectares of land for mango cultivation and has now asked a group of top Indian businessmen to see how it could fit in their investment plans. A 35-member delegation of the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) arrived here to hold a two-day business meeting with their Ghanaian counterparts, the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), to further strengthen the growing trade between the two countries. The FICCI team is led by group chairman of DCS Limited, Harpinder Singh Narula, and it is made up of chief executives of some major Indian companies representing agriculture and food processing, information and communication technology and mining. They would also explore ways of investing in the
Ghanaian economy. Speaking at the opening of the two-day meeting, Narula said that the west African nation had become a promising business destination because of the country's natural resources and high literacy rate. The country has a dynamic private sector with a business friendly environment and above all a progressive policy regime to boost trade. 'Ghana occupies an important place in India's trade promotion programme,' Narula said. Appiah Donyina, director of exports at the ministry trade and industry in Accra, said that the Ghanaian government has acquired 20,000 hectares of land for mango cultivation in the three northern regions of the country as part of the national mango plantation projects that is aimed at developing mango orchards over the next five years".

While the news report may tickle the minds of many an Indian, transforming such ideas into reality is fraught with many risks. Absolutely no information exists regarding the suitability of Indian varieties Mango to be grown under Ghanaian conditions and even if successfully produced how far it will compare with genuine Indian grown fruits is a point that poses scientific and logistical challenges. As is true with any agricultural project the lag period between conceptualization and actual production may be at least 8-10 years for which investors should have sufficient patience. If this approach succeeds, Mango can be expected to be cheaper to the Indian consumer, export business being managed from off shore cultivation. India consumer cannot forget easily the unjustified and illogical rise in prices during the last season and can only hope that their dear fruit will once again be affordable.


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