The U.S. India Business Council in Washington, D.C. played host to the first-ever 'Mango Day' celebrations on the arrival of Indian mangoes to the U.S., after a gap of 18 years. The first mangoes arrived at the John F. Kennedy Airport in New York. But the big welcome party occurred in the nation's capital. For Hindi TV's Rohit Kulkarni, VOA's Suzanne Presto narrates.
It appeared that no one turned down an invitation to sample premium varieties of what Indians call the "King of Fruits", the mango. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C. was packed with people waiting to taste Indian mangoes in the United States for the first time in nearly two decades.
India is the world's largest producer of mangoes but had been shut out of the U.S. market because of concerns over mangoes introducing new a pest, the mango seed weevil, into North America. But U.S. Department of Agriculture officials were able to work out an agreement that allows the import of Indian mangoes that have been irradiated.
Mike Johanns is the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. "It just took a while to get this worked out. So I am glad it is done and I am glad the mangoes are here."
Dr. Bhaskar Savani took charge of the first shipment in New York. He has spent the past three years lobbying U.S. officials to allow Indian mangoes into the country. Dr. Savani expects Indian mangoes will be available in U.S. grocery stores by the end of May.
"We are having a number of meetings with the interested grocery shop owners. We will facilitate the distribution process. I hope to make them available for consumers in the next two or three weeks," said Savani.
The arrival of the mangoes may open the door for other Indian fruits to enter the American market.
Susan Schwab is the U.S. Trade Representative. "The benefit for consumers in both countries and farmers in both countries,” she said, “is to eliminate as many trade barriers on both sides as we can and what we have been able to do with mangoes is a great example of that."
President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh signed a historic nuclear energy treaty in 2006. A sidenote to that agreement allowed the renewed export of Indian mangoes into the United States.