Mango merchants in the city are reportedly resorting to artificial ripening of mangoes using chemicals such as calcium carbide in a bid to make quick profits.
Ravindra Hakate, Deputy Director of Horticulture, has said that it is in violation of the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on Sales) Regulations, 2011.
“It can cause health-related problems, including respiratory problems and cancer. The buyers need not be in a hurry to relish the fruit and look out for naturally ripened mangoes which are yet to arrive in the local markets,” Mr. Hakate said.
Mangoes, which are artificially ripened, contain traces of arsenic and phosphorous hydride and has carcinogenic properties. Since this chemical is cheap and easily available, the traders use it indiscriminately for faster ripening and quick returns. However, artificial ripening is not restricted to mangoes alone.
The fruit merchants in the city procure mangoes from Ratnagiri, Sindugurg and Raigad in the Konkan belt of Maharashtra. The Ratnagiri Alhonso, locally known as ‘hapus’, is the most sought after variety for its rich flavour and sweetness. Due to growing demand in the markets abroad, the prices of Ratnagiri Alphonso are on higher side in domestic markets, often unaffordable to the middle class, let along the common man.
The prevailing retail prices for a box consisting between 20 to 24 pieces is in between Rs.1,500 to Rs.1,800 for best quality.
In sharp contrast to the otherwise early arrivals from Ratnagiri, growers in Belagavi district are confronting off-year impact reflecting in delayed flowering and fruit formation.
The traditional mango fields in Sulga, Belgundi and adjoining villages between Karnataka-Maharashtra boundary are yet to see flowering of mango trees.
According to Mr. Hakate, the flowering in this part of the State normally start during December and early January.
However, there was delay in certain areas and the flowering if yet to begin. It might start next week and the fruits could start arriving into markets from May first week, which would also bring down the price of the mangoes in local markets.
He said the area under mango cultivation this year was around 5,131 hectares in the Belagavi district. As there was no rainfall and strong winds, a good harvest was expected this year, he added.