Mango season is in. The king of fruits, mango, is everyone’s favorite summer season fruit. There is nothing like peeling a ripe mango, sinking your teeth in the rich and juicy pulp, and feeling the sweet taste tantalizing your soul. So we have been providing organically grown, succulent, and delectable varieties of mangoes to our customers throughout the Delhi/NCR.
On a recent visit to one of our organic partner farms in Amroha, where we get our mangoes from, we came across some surprising facts about mango farming methods and practices. As an organic farming startup run by organic enthusiasts who left their respective jobs to pursue chemical-free farming, we don’t have extensive knowledge of the chemicals and fertilizers that are being used in modern commercial farming. What we learned, especially about the degree of use of chemicals in mango farming, during our visit to the farm was nothing short of a surprise. In the current commercial farming scenario, Mango farming witnesses several efforts to keep the harvest looking spotless, ripe, healthy, and shiny, akin to what you might notice in an advertisement.
Before we proceed, we must make it clear that we are aware that sustainable and organic farming methods in India are far from mainstream. Despite government efforts, organic farming currently covers only 2 percent of the country’s total net sown area. This means that a significant portion of the food produced in India is inorganic, known to be dangerous to humans and the environment. We are not just stating this to have you worried about where you buy your food from but to give you a context of the current agriculture scenario in India. Here are some compelling reasons why people are switching to organic food?
Now that we have a gist of the standard farming methods in India let’s head to Amroha, where we organically grow mangoes.
Firstly, mangoes are one of the most farmed fruits in Amroha, taking almost 80% of the whole fruit production in the area. Some of the cultivars grown here include Langda, Safeda, Dussehri, and Chausa. There are also a few ancient varieties of mangoes that are on the brink of extinction, but efforts are in place to revive them through grafting.
Amroha also has inorganic farming methods deep-rooted into its agriculture sector. According to local farmers, mango season starts early for those who employ unethical methods of using chemicals throughout the year to keep the produce looking ripe and shiny.
PUSA recently introduced a steroid for farmers to maintain an even growth of mangoes. The institute advised farmers to use the steroid for two years and then discontinue it for the next few years. Nevertheless, commercial farmers in Amroha have been known to use the chemical every year for over five years. Now, it goes without saying that these methods of keeping mangoes ripe and healthy-looking are unethical and extremely dangerous for our health. It also makes it difficult for unaware consumers to choose mangoes that are healthy over the ones that ‘seem’ healthy.
Many farmers in Amroha also make use of other chemicals such as carbide to ripen the produce early to maintain high rates before the season has even set in. These chemicals are sprayed over the fruit as much as twice a week. These practices have been especially prevalent in Amroha to disrupt the market and keep a continuous supply of mangoes in it, regardless of its hazardous side effects on us and our environment’s health. There are also techniques to delay the growth of the harvest and keep it looking fresh using nitric oxide. Ethelene plays an important role in mango's ripening process (or, for that matter, any other fruit), but using Ethelene inhibitors like nitric oxide can effectively delay ripening. This means the seemingly ‘fresh’ fruits you bought from the market have been through a number of chemical processes to look that way.
Given the non-uniform showers this season, the ripening process of mangoes is disturbed, resulting in a lot of spoilage. This is especially the case in organic farms, where no chemicals or fertilizers are used on the harvest to keep it looking presentable. On the other hand, chemical-based farming methods don’t have to worry about the shortage of rains or other weather irregularities as they have access to chemicals that overcome these challenges but at the cost of the unaware consumer's health.
A farmer from the adjacent village mentioned that two of his buffaloes succumbed to death after being fed with his farm's chemically treated mangoes. We can only imagine the effects these unnatural grown foods can have on our health.
One of the farmers working on our Amroha farm stated, “aajkal dulhan se zyada aam sajaya jata hai", (these days mangoes are treated with makeup more than brides), which we think, is a funny way to explain the grim situation of mango farming.
As we move forward with an organic and environment-friendly lifestyle, food should be at the center of this movement. Euronews has explained this point in detail, explaining Why Food Should be at the Heart of Environmental Action, where they have elucidated the drawbacks and detrimental effects of inorganic farming and the reasons why organic farming is the way to go. At Responsibly Grown, we are dedicated to bringing fresh, healthy food to our customers and help you avoid chemically-induced food, and maintain a healthy lifestyle. And we are proud to be a part of the worldwide movement that aims to make organic farming the future of the agriculture industry.