The mango growers of Malihabad are set to register a loss for the second consecutive year due to the prolonged corona curfew.
"In my view, there are only two essential points about mangoes: they should be sweet and they should be plentiful." This is what Mirza Ghalib had to say about the 'King of Fruits' and according to us, there is not a single Lucknowite who would differ with this opinion.
The reason for such immense love for this fruit traces its lineage back to the era of Nawabs, when the discreet town of Malihabad, located some 30 km from Lucknow, flourished as the centre for luscious mangoes. However, the mango-mania that has gripped the citizens since time immemorial, has taken a hit during this pandemic as the prolonged corona curfew is keeping mango lovers away from fruit markets!
'Mango Capital' hit by corona curfew
Despite favourable weather conditions, the mango growers of Malihabad are set to register a loss for the second consecutive year due to the prolonged corona curfew. Although the Dasheri mangoes shall be ripe and ready in the coming ten days, the extra care required by the crop during the last days is hit by the shortage of labour. Set to enter the consumer markets by May-end, sellers of the Dasheri variety of mangoes are experiencing an acute absence of resalers and other buyers. These difficulties are a direct result of the corona curfew, which has led to the restriction in movement in Lucknow and other UP districts.
Since mangoes do not have a long shelf-life, the closure of fruit mandis may result in mango lovers not getting an opportunity to taste the best of Dasheris this year. Further, storing the produce for long may result in a loss of taste and aroma, so even this option can eventually result in monetary damages for the cultivators.
The land of fabled varieties of mangoes
It is believed that Malihabad was founded by Raja Malhia of the Arakh clan of warriors, however, it was originally named Malhiapur. Its current name maps its origin to the times when this town was dominated by the Pathans, who developed the famous mango orchards under the patronage of the nawabs of Lucknow.
Most famous among more than a dozen mango belts identified in UP, Malihabad has aptly followed its over 200-year-long legacy by preserving its niche with the latest grafting techniques. The flag-bearer of this initiative is Kaleemullah Khan, a Padma Shree recipient and a noted mango cultivator, who is well-known for growing 300 varieties of mango on a single tree.
Apart from this achievement, Malihabad is also world-renowned for its Dasheri variety for which it has also been bestowed with a GI tag by the government. The list of other varieties that are also cultivated in this region includes- Lucknowa Safeda, Chausa, Langra and Kachcha Meetha. Insram Ali, the head of Mango Grower's Association of India, dubbed Malihabad as the Mango Capital of India, owing to the high-quality produce of this town.
Let's hope that the covid scenario gets under control soon enough so that Lucknowites don't have to spend yet another summer without the sweetness of mangoes. Also, when the curfew restrictions ease, you can enjoy a trip to the famed mango orchards of Malihabad. So, support the local cultivators and sellers with your mask on!