Krishna Consciousness & Ecological Awareness

A Case for Organic Alphonsos
November 6, 2008, 10:08 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

By Reenita Malhotra, Eco-Worldly website

The mango is so widely available in India, that the fruit itself is named Aam which translates from Sanskrit as ‘common.’ Even though the Indian subcontinent is home to more than a thousand varieties of mango, most Indians identify the fruit with the Alphonso variety. Popularly regarded as the reigning king among Indian mangoes, the Alphonso has a unique flavor – sweet and sumptuous with an aromatic citrus overtone. Cultivated primarily in the state of Maharashtra, along the verdant shores of Konkan coast, the Alphonso mango fruit fills the narrow lanes of Crawford Market in Mumbai every year from March to May.The Alphonso Mango was a Product of the Colonies

The Alphonso mango was named for Afonso De Albuquerque, a Portugese nobleman who helped establish the Portugese empire in India. He was known for bringing this exquisite and expensive fruit on his journeys to Goa. The locals took to calling it Aphoos in Konkani and in Maharashtra the pronunciation got further corrupted to Hapoos. The mango was subsequently taken to the Konkan region of Maharashtra and other parts of India.

The Alphonso Mango is a Perfect Fruit and a Food Ingredient

Essentially an ideal table fruit, Alphonso mango pulp is also suited for making juice, nectars, drinks and  jams. It is also be used in puddings, bakery fillings, food flavors, ice creams, yogurt and confectionery. Madhur Jaffrey, Indian Culinary Expert put together this delicious recipe for Aam Ras or Mango Soup, a favorite in Gujrati Cuisine and here is a simple recipe for mango chutney that goes particularly well with Alphonso mangoes.

Cultivating Mangoes in the Konkan Region of Maharashtra

Albeit the Alphonso mango is arguably the most popular fruit in the Konkan region of India, its cultivation has taken a beating in the last several years. As Maharashtra has rapidly industrialized, many mango orchards have given way to factories and industrial plants. Most of Thane, a bustling industrial suburb of Mumbai, was once almost exclusively mango cultivating land.

A Case For Organic Alphonsos

Mango trees require soil with good internal drainage. Although chemical fertilizers and fruiting hormones have been used by many cultivators in the last fifty years (since India’s first Green Revolution in the late sixties), recently, cultivators are seeing that the Alphonso mango well suited to organic cultivation. With care and dedication, trees can yield as much as 3000 kg from the 0.8 hectares from the sixth year of planting. This is huge output can fetch a handsome profit. As the tree grows, its yield goes up: a thirty year-old tree produces as much as 2500 quality fruits.

While cultivators such as Mother India Farms in Tamil Nadu are focusing on exporting Alphonsos, others are taking a local approach. Vineet Aggarwal, an ex New York restaurant owner and Farshid Yezdegardi, a well known restaurant owner (of Cafe Mondegar in Mumbai) have been inspired by the concept of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). They are working to convert a 100 acre mango orchard in the Raigad district of Maharastra into an organic farm that they hope to build as a platform for organic box deliveries of Alphonsos to Maharashtra residents.

We use an organic fertilizer known as Ecomeal,” says Aggarwal. “Aside from being a non toxic, nitrogen fixing soil nutrient, it is enhanced with neem, an Ayurvedic herb that improves soil quality by keeping away root grubs and other unwanted soil pests.”

Who knows….if the Alphonso can actually go organic then it will probably be elevated from the King of Mangoes to the King of Fruit!

View an article written in NY Times: Mango Mania in India & the Ban of Indian Mangoes in the US (2006)

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