Every Indian should be enraged over the European Union’s decision to prohibit from May 1 the import of Alphonso mangoes and four other vegetables from India. Though the business community, particularly people of Indian origin, that deals in mango import and sales in the UK has openly expressed anger over what has been described as “Euro nonsense”, it is the Indian exporter who is suffering silently, expecting loss of his prime share of profit in the six million pounds annual market.
Alphonsos being Alphonsos, Europeans themselves might take up the issue with their government, lest they miss out on the delicious king of fruits during the eight-week season every summer. But Indians need to remember that this is not the first time the West has found fault with an Indian consignment. There is a thriving discount market in India in which goods, mostly textiles, are pushed as “export rejects”, suggesting they were made for some Western country that refused to take it and hence will be of better quality. That is, Indian producers make one set of goods for local consumption and another for export, which too often fails to live up to global standards.
In the latest instance, the UK fears pests could come along with Alphonso mangoes and the vegetables—brinjals, taro corms, bitter gourd and snake gourd—endangering its 312 million pound salad crop industry of tomato and cucumber. The fear stems from the claim that 207 consignments imported into EU in 2013 had fruit flies and other quarantine pests. The stakeholders in the export business may dispel the fears and help Europeans relish Alphonsos at least in 2015 but the incident should impel India to make concerted efforts to raise the quality of its goods, mainly food. If we adhere to high standards, we will not be giving room for western nations to cry foul. For, in the globalised market, any single ban on exports from India can hurt the nation’s economy.