Mangoes in LucknowAs it is said “Mango among fruits, pork among meats, tea among leaves”, a discussion of fruits is always incomplete without the soft and pulpy mangoes. To the worldwide market, these fruits are vastly brought in by South Asian countries. India tops the list, as per the survey conducted by Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN in 2009, by producing 45 million tonnes of the crop. Growth of mangoes is highly dependent on rain and soil types, such as alluvial and loamy soils. Both these requirements are very well satisfied by the Indian climatic and soil conditions thereby permitting round the year production of this seed-bearing fruit. Apart from its mouth watering taste, they hold religious importance to Indians as they are a part of ritual decorations and worships. As a result, Mango is considered as the national fruit of India.
With several hectares of land solely contributed for the cultivation of mangoes an approximate of 15 million fruits are brought into the Indian market every year. Almost all states of the country cultivate the crop but Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh are the top mango producing states with a minimum of 100,000 hectors of land utilized for mango farming. When it comes to the varieties, around 100 and more different types of mangoes are cultivated and amongst them 15 hybrid varieties are also nurtured. Each variety is distinct from one another in shape, aroma and taste. Alphonso, Dashehari, Banganpalli, Bombay Green, Langra, Chausa are few of the favorite choices.
When it comes to the amount of mangoes produced, Alphonso mangoes are the top rankers, but Dashehari, Langra and Chausa mangoes are more desired over any other varieties. These heavenly mangoes are cultivated extensively in Malihabad village of Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. With more than 59000 hectares of land utilized in mango cultivation in Lucknow, and approximate of 10 million mangoes are produced by Uttar Pradesh into the Indian market. Even though mangoes are produced continuously for at least first 10 months of the year, the 6th and 7th months harvest the most. Due to the favorable climatic and soil conditions of the state, mango cultivation has become the bread earner of the Nawabs.
Padmashri Kaleemullah Khan in mango plantation.
From Malihabad village of Uttar Pradesh hails the “Mango King of India”, Kaleemullah Khan. His curiosity and passion for mango plantation earned him the third civilian award of India, Padmashri. Padmashri Kaleemullah Khan is known to have created more than 300 varieties of mangoes from a 100 year old tree. Apart from successfully conflicting genetics, he shows his creativeness in naming each of these varieties too. Aishwarya and Sachin are just few examples of his unique creations. His latest creation was named after the gangrape victim of December 2012, Nirbhaya.
Unlike other mangoes, they are non-fibrous and firm, thus eating them is not a hard work. Dasheharis are exported vastly imported to several countries around the globe, but limited to few Middle Eastern nations. In order to promote these mangoes, each year events are organized by the Mango Growers Association of India. These events are attended by important personals such as the Ambassadors of different countries, Indian bureaucrats and politicians. Despite the presence of such significant officers, the star of these events is the Dashehari mangoes. Hybrid varieties of mangoes are derived from the Dasheharis.
The other type of mangoes cultivated in Lucknow, is the Langra. On appearance these mangoes look raw and green, but are sweet with a soft yellow pulp underneath the thin skin. Similar to Dasheharis they are medium in size but ovate in shape. Originally from Varanasi, these mangoes are an essential ingredient in mango lassis, mango kheers and other mango dishes.
Chaunsa mangoes are often described as god’s gift as they taste heavenly. Even though, this mango variety is produced at a higher scale in Pakistan, Indian soils are equally favorable for their cultivation. Known for their juicy pulp, they are also regarded as the “King of Mangoes”.
Apart these three main varieties of mangoes, Lucknow has successfully created many hybrid varieties. Amrapali, Mallika and CISH-2 are examples of these hybrids. Amrapali is a cross breed of Dashehari and the Tamil Nadu fame, Neelum. In its formulation Neelum is the male parent and Dashehari as the female parent. Their reddish-orange colour makes them stand out. These mangoes are nutritious and rich in ß-carotene. Mallika mangoes are created by reversing Amrapali’s hybridization, i.e. Dashehari is the male parent and Neelum the female parent. The mangoes have an exceptional flavor which is a blend of citrus, honey and melon. These high quality, fiber-less mangoes are uncommon among the people due to their high cost, which is justifiable according to the taste they offer.
Along with Padmashri Khan, universities in Uttar Pradesh have contributed for the betterment of mango cultivation. Central institute for subtropical horticulture has developed instruments for efficient collection of the fruits. Although mangoes contribute about 25% to the total amount of fruits produced in the country, more efforts are being made by the Uttar Pradesh government to enhance this percentage.