Muscat: Pakistan Mango Festival 2013 started with great fanfare as nearly 40 varieties of the tastefully displayed king of fruits vied for attention at The Sultan Centre in Qurum on Monday.
Inaugurated by the chief guest Dr Hamed bin Suleiman Al Aufi, undersecretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, the festival will continue at all Sultan Centre branches in the capital from July 8 to 14.
The opening ceremony, conducted by noted actress and model Ayesha Gul, attracted significant attention from local dignitaries, ambassadors of 18 countries and members of Pakistani community in Oman.
Nestled comfortably in their wooden compartments, the golden 'beauties' looked set for a catwalk to woo the enticed onlookers smitten by their colour, aroma and the expected great taste. No wonder the one-upmanship of the proud mango growers in Pakistan has spawned a mind-boggling variety of the juicy fruit. The excitement was quite palpable as the guests walked through the festival thumping, stroking, smelling and generally sizing up the juicy delectables on display.
Pakistan, among the largest mango exporters in the world, is in the throes of its mango season, which usually starts in May and ends in September. Pakistan exports over 50 million kilograms or about 6 per cent of its production each year. The figures indicate that there is a great scope for increasing mango exports, which are worth over $20 million a year.
"Mango, the national fruit of Pakistan, is one of the most popular fruits in our country. Hundreds of varieties of mangoes are known to exist in Pakistan. Some of the top varieties on display here are Chaunsa, Anwar Ratol, Dosehri, Malda, Langra, Fajri, Sindhri, Ghulabkhas, Sahanarni, Alphonso, Patri, Fazli, Neelam and Sensation," said K. K. Ahsan Wagan, charge d'affaires at the Embassy of Pakistan. He thanked the management of The Sultan Centre and Zahrat Sunny Trading for assisting the Embassy of Pakistan in organising the festival.
The mango tree grows better in hot and dry weather and Pakistan has the ideal climate. The fruit becomes tastier when the air is dry.
Which is the best mango in Pakistan? A question that has never been able to generate consensus but Chaunsa, Langra, Anwar Ratol and Sindhri have traditionally vied for the crown without officially claiming it as their own.