The European Union has concluded that Indian mangoes this season are subpar and has banned the kingly Alfonso’s import to its countries. As the export restrictions come in effect today, some of us are pleased, since an influx of the internationally discarded stock in domestic market would pull down prices.
This, however, is far from savoury news. EU banned the fruit because their inspectors detected the presence of pests in Indian consignments of mango, which they fear could be a threat to the health and hygiene of their nationals. If the fruit has failed to meet international norms of quality, why are we expected to have the reject?
Exporters, who take all possible precautionary measures to preserve food quality before selling it in international markets, such as Europe or the Gulf countries, seem to be giving the process a skip while trading locally.
While trading abroad, they clean the fruit, treat it for bacteria and insects through hot water or vapour treatment and then send it for packaging. But are they taking the same precautions while dealing in the domestic market?
This duplicity of standards while trading in the home and international markets is abominable when one considers the tacit rationale behind it, which is that Indians will take whatever they get.
Moreover, although prices have plummeted from Rs 1,000-1,500 to Rs 500-700 and there are all indications that they may decline further, retailers are unwilling to concede any drop in prices for the Indian market. Why are Indian consumers taken for granted by retailers?
Make checks binding
It only stands to fairness and reason that international standards ought to be followed for domestic buyers at any rate. And the authorities should make it de rigueur for traders to run quality checks in the interest of the health and hygiene other than the dignity of Indian consumers.