ISLAMABAD: Terming mango as the choicest fruit of the Sub- continent, Amir Khusro said in his Persian verse, `For garden pride the mango is sought. Ere ripe, other fruits to cut we ban, but mango serves, ripe or not.`
Urdu poet Ghalib was a mango lover, he quoted `Aam meethe hon aur bahut se hon (sweet mangoes and in plenty). In old times kings and nobles often used to send their friends gifts of choice mangoes. Many of them had their own mango groves. Among the summer fruits mango is the most popular fruit amongst millions of people in the orient, particularly in the Sub-continent. In fact, it will be no exaggeration to say that because of its excellent flavour, attractive fragrance, beautiful shades of colours, delicious taste and healthful value, mango now has been recognised as one of the best fruits in the world market. Mango fruits contain 10-20 per cent of sugar, an important source of vitamin A and C and contain vitamin B. Small amount of protein, iron, calcium and phosphorus are also present. Ripe fruits are mainly eaten fresh, and also utilised in preparing squashes, jams and other preserves. Vernal and unripe fruits are used in pickles.
China, Pakistan, India, Mexico, Thailand, Philippines, Nigeria, Indonesia, Brazil and Egypt are the top mango producing countries in the world. Four-fifths of global mango production comes from these countries. Asia, the original home of the fruit, provides about three-fourths of world mangoes. In Pakistan after citrus mango is the second major fruit crop. The area under mango crop has increased but the rise in production is comparatively slow.
The main mango growing districts in the Punjab province is Multan, Bahawalpur, Muzzaffargarh and Rahim Yar Khan. In Sindh it is mainly grown in Mirpur Khas, Hyderabad and Thatta. In NWFP it is grown in Peshawar and Mardan. The climate of Sindh gets warmer about one month earlier than the Punjab, which gives the province privilege to grow early varieties of mango. In Pakistan mangoes are also cultivated in
Balochistan and N.W.F.P, the fruit is mainly grown in Sindh and southern Punjab. Mirpur Khas and Multan are noted for their huge mango gardens. Hyderabad,Nawabshah, Naushahro Feroz, Khairpur, Mirpur Khas, Rahim Yar Khan, Bhawalpur and Muzafargarh are important mango growing areas in the country.
Hundreds of varieties of mangoes are known to exist in Pakistan. Mango varieties have been known for attractive colours, savouring smell, delightful taste and high nutritive value. The most popular commercial varieties are all different in colours and sizes, each with a distinct flavour and taste.The major varieties are Anwar Retol, Dasehri, Langra, Chaunsa ,Sindhri, Sonahra , Fajri ,Neelum ,Began Phali,Collector , Alams and Gulab Khas, Saharni,Alphonso, Pairi and Fazli.
Pakistan earns about $24 million annually from mango export, with a production about 915,000 tons. Pakistan`s mango export including Middle East has also found its way to the UK and other European markets. It is believed that the demand would rise further, if given the right impetus, and expanding the exports to Germany, Japan China and Hong Kong. We must focus on Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore in the Far East and the Netherlands, France, the U.K and Germany in Europe for developing mango exports from Pakistan.
In this era of value-addition we should export mangoes in value-added form. The fruit may be processed into juices, nectars and other value-added products and then exported.