Accomplished mango cultivator Padma Shri Haji Kalimullah Khan of Malihabad, Uttar Pradesh has developed two new varieties of famous ‘dussehri’, which he has dedicated to the country's ‘corona warriors’.
Affectionately known as ‘mango-man’ of India, Khan has named the two assortments of the luscious fruit ‘doctor’ and ‘police’ to acknowledge their contribution towards controlling the spread of the pandemic.
So far, Khan has developed nearly 300 distinct mango varieties with the grafting method. Likewise, he has named a dozen select mango varieties after top celebrities from the political, films and sports spheres. These include Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, union minister Amit Shah, cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, and actor Aishwarya Rai.
“The new varieties have been titled after doctor and police personnel, who have been at the forefront of our campaign against this disease despite all odds,” the octogenarian told Business Standard.
He said the two dussehri varieties, growing in his expansive mango orchard, have an alluring appearance and would be ready for plucking next month. Famous for the mango belt of dussehri, Malihabad, which is about 28 km from the state capital, is part of the Lucknow district.
Meanwhile, Khan expressed concern at the market prospects of dussehri given the persistent restrictions in the domestic and export market following lockdown.
“Normally, the mango orchard owners finalise sales contracts for the season with the traders and exporters by now. However, there have been little or no trade enquiries this time round due to the covid-19 lockdown,” he claimed.
However, he supported the lockdown to contain the disease and suggested that the state government should properly screen all the migrant labourers coming back to UP from other states, before they are allowed to return to their respective districts.
“The government should stringently screen all the workers so that when they go back to their villages, there is no scope of the spread of the infection,” Khan underlined.
Last month, Mango Growers Association of India had written a letter to UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath seeking urgent measures to protect the state mango farmers from losses.
In his letter, Association president Insram Ali had referred to the headwinds facing the mango farmers in over a dozen mango belts of UP owing to the lockdown crisis, apart from the loss from unseasonal rains and squall last month.
According to Ali, UP mango production, which is dominated by dussehri with 80 per cent share, is estimated at 3.5 million tonnes (MT) this season compared to more than 4 MT last year.
UP mango is exported to the Gulf viz. Iran, United Arab of Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and Bangladesh. Indian mango, especially from the South, is also shipped to the South East Asian countries, such as Malaysia and Singapore.