By Ijaz Ahmad
PESHAWAR, Jul 14 (APP):In the 19th century Mirza Ghalib, the great Urdu/Persian poet, immortalized the mango in his beautiful poetic verses, describing it as the “king of fruits” and extolling qualities such as its exotic aroma and its honey-sweetness. It shines at every feast, for the rich or the poor alike.
Mangoes are not only Pakistan’s national fruit, they are also part of culture, a networking tool, an instrument of social bonding and a diplomatic emissary worthy of being gifted to dignitaries all over the world.
One does not have to travel all the way to Pakistan to enjoy Pakistani mangoes; they are readily available in most food stores worldwide. Pakistan produces nearly a million metric tons of mangoes a year and ranks as the fourth-largest exporter in the global market.
Pakistani mangoes are primarily consumed in the ethnic (Asian) consumer segment, but there is a growing trend of exports to North America and Europe, premium import markets with a 62 percent share in global mango imports. The export potential of mangoes continues to grow,owing to improvements in the cultivation, harvesting, packing and marketing processes.In Pakistan, where people are exploring ways to beat the searing summer heat, delicious mangoes keep them cool and fresh.
The rising summer temperatures coincide with the harvest of mango crops as well. The sights and sounds of vendors hawking piles of soft, sweet-smelling mangoes or pureeing them to create refreshing drinks to cut through the scorching heat define summer in Pakistan. With the onset of summer, mango sales have increased significantly and with increased sales , the prices of Mangoes have surged and are being sold at Rs. 100 to Rs. 300 everywhere from streets to all major shopping malls.
At this time of the year, the renowned Chaunsa variety has arrived, following on from the Sindhari, which ripens earlier. They are just two of 1595 known varieties of mangoes known. Other commercially produced varieties in Pakistan include Langra, Dasehri, Anwar Ratool, Samar Bahisht and Desi.
During a survey in the cities, the citizens said that they were anxiously waiting for the mango season as it was the hot favourite of everyone from children to adults.It is worth mentioning here that Pakistani mango is famous across the globe for its aroma and taste and is in great demand .
Kachehri Road Dera has become a hub for buying and selling mangoes in Paniala. A resident of Paniala said that he has been involved in the fruit business for the last few years.”During the mango season my income increases because I sell many mangoes from Paniala to Dera every day.”he said and added , “I sell five different varieties of mangoes.” Another resident of Dera says that he sells mangoes on a wheelbarrow and his workload increases during the mango season ast the rush of customers is also at peak.
Sindhri is a very famous mango variety from Pakistan and among the best Mangoes of the World. Langra mango’s flesh is fiber-less, yellowish brown in color and has a strong aroma when it ripens
Pakistan exports mangoes of around a dozen varieties including Sindhri, Summer Chaunsa, White Chaunsa (late variety), Fajri, Ratawala/112 (late variety), Kaiser, Anwar Ratol and Lal Badshah.Among 1595 varieties of mangoes known, only 25 to 30 are being grown on a commercial scale.
The varieties of the king of the fruits produced in Pakistan include Chaunsa, Sindhri, Langra, Dasei, Anwar Ratool, Saroli, Samar Bahisht, Toota Pari, Fajri, Neelum, Alphanso, Almas, Sanwal, Surkha, Sunera and Desi.The Chaunsa mango is known as one of the best in the world. It is now grown in a number of places around the world, but has its origin in Rahim Yar Khan and Multan in Punjab and it is unusually sweet, with a wonderful fragrance, and has delicious, soft, succulent flesh with a minimum of fiber. From the outside, it might not look like a thing of beauty — it usually has a pale, matte-yellow appearance — but inside the thin peel lies a delight waiting to be discovered.
While the Chaunsa is considered by many to be the best mango, any Pakistani variety tastes sublime. It is also a very versatile fruit. Eaten with a paratha, it makes a complete meal. A mango lassi (curd shake) in the morning provides an energy boost that will help to see you through the day.
A mango salad for lunch and another lassi (whey) in place of afternoon tea will pep you up if you start to flag. Mangoes are also used to make ice-cream, squashes, juices, chutneys, pickles, puree and are sold sliced in syrup. “Summer in Pakistan is getting unbearable with every passing year, but mangoes only make it bearable,” Managing Director Tourism Department KP Junaid Khan, hailing from Paniala in Dera told APP.
“The cold and slushy (mango) shake or the frosty mango slices beat the fatigue, caused by the heat,” he added with a winsome smile on his face.
He said from one corner to another of Pakistan, and specially the areas in Sindh, Dera Ismail Khan, and even Peshawar, or other part of the country in Punjab and Balochistan provinces, people in Islamabad, Gilgit-Baltistan, and everywhere where temperatures touched 50 degrees Celsius in summer season Mangoes reduce the heat.”Mangoes are the only thing I liked about summers,” he said and added, “summer is stifling and disturbing, but I like the season because it brings with it mangoes which make me tidy at the end.” He said Mirpur Khas was one of the largely mango-producing regions and famous for its huge Sindhri variety of mangoes.Pakistan produces 1.9 million tons of mangoes annually, thus ranking sixth in the world, followed by India, China, Thailand, Indonesia and Mexico. There are two dozen mango varieties, notably, Anwar Rattaul or Anwar Ratole , Dasheri, Langra, Saroli, Sindhri, Totapari, and others. However, the taste of the country is prized Chaunsa.
The juicy Chaunsa accounted for 60% of mango exports. “Chaunsa is a favourite in the Middle East, Europe, America and other countries because of its special taste”, said Khalid Khan, a former Mr. KP and fruit wholesaler in fruit Mandi Peshawar. “In terms of sweetness, Pakistani mangoes edge out their Indian and Indonesian counterparts in the international market and we can increase our mango exports through good and quality packing, Khalid Khan said. Despite its aroma and taste that makes Pakistani mangoes a hot favorite, little attention is being paid to adopt the latest harvest practices to improve their quality further through the latest technology necessary to sustain and to explore new markets. Even China- the second largest mango producer- wants Pakistani mangoes, as their production does not match the huge demand they have, because of a large population.