Brussels : Union Minister of Commerce and Industry, Piyush Goyal on Friday (local time) inaugurated a "Mango Festival" organized in Brussels to create awareness among the Europeans and create a market for Indian mangoes in Europe.
India is a major exporter of mangoes to the world, but mostly the mangoes are going to Middle-East countries rather than coming to Europe. Santosh Jha, Indian Ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg and European Union (EU) shared his thoughts on the event and the "immense potential" Indian mango has in the European market.
"Indian mangoes in Europe have immense potential. The idea is to bring it first here, and get them to taste it. This is the first time being held in Belgium, considered the capital of Europe, and all the organizations of the EU are here. We are also fortunate to have Union Minister of Commerce and Industry, Piyush Goyal here who inaugurated the event. I am really proud of it as most of the mangoes are from my home-state Bihar. I tasted them after so many years," said Jha in an exclusive interview with ANI.
Speaking over EU-India free trade negotiations (FTAs), he said that EU-India negotiations started with the mango-mania.
"If you are talking about FTA, it was paused in 2013, we have now begun to restart, and negotiations will be formally relaunched. Then we will start the formal negotiations at the technical level. I think that as India now has a new approach to FTA, there is a lot of optimism. If we negotiate well, understand each other, overall sense of mutual engagement, then we will have a really good opportunity to conclude it at an early date. We have a very fast-track approach, we want to finish it quickly. If you see, how we have finished other FTAs, it should give you an indication of how quickly we could possibly do it.
Giving an inkling about the timeline of the EU-India negotiations, he said, "It will begin with proper negotiations on each and every track. There are multiple tracks in FTA and in each track as we progress, we will take it, as it goes. It takes a while to understand each other position and see what can be the best balance. How ambitious we can be, how comprehensive we can have the agreements."
Dr Smita Sirohi, Adviser, Agriculture & Marine Products at the Embassy of India, who participated in the event said that in Europe, there are two countries which are Indian market - UK and Germany.
She said that the idea behind organizing the "Mango Festival" in Belgium is to showcase Indian mangoes in the European market.
"As far as Belgium is concerned, most of the mangoes are coming from Latin American countries. The idea behind this festival was to tell the Belgium consumers -- the hub of the European Union (EU) -- that these are the varieties of mangoes offered by India and this is the exportable surplus which we have, that is why we organized this event here," Sirohi told ANI.
"We have invited people here who are working in various countries, agriculture attaches, who are working in the European Commission from the FreshFel (the European Fresh Produce Association, is the forum for the fresh fruit and vegetables supply chain in Europe) and other organizations who are dealing in fresh fruit and vegetables," she added.
Seven varieties of mangoes were displayed at the event - Banganapalli from Andhra Pradesh, Malihabad Dasheri from Uttar Pradesh, Amrapali from Odisha, Lakshman Bhog, Himsagar, Jardalu mango, Langra mangoes, and 12 GI-tagged products.
About attracting European consumers, Sirohi said, "Our expectation is that once people get to know that this is what India is about, these are the varieties which India has to offer, this is going to create awareness and this eventually will lead to business dealings with Indian exporter of mangoes and our buyers here."
Many Europeans, including agricultural attaches, and European and Indian businessmen participated in the event, including commoners.
One of the participants, Julia said, "I was surprised at 6-7 varieties of mangoes, it tastes completely different, and some of them are very sweet. It's not the first time I had mangoes, but, it's the first time I had different kinds of mangoes. We only have one kind of mangoes in supermarkets. More and more people in Belgium are now trying different cuisines, incorporating different ingredients and elements, I can see people having a flavour for mangoes."
One of the friends of Julia also shared her experience of tasting Indian mangoes. She said, "I really enjoyed tasting the mangoes, I am a huge mango fan. I too was not familiar with different varieties of Mango like Julia. I haven't had many opportunities, living in Europe or either in the UK, where I am from. It was very interesting to taste all the mangoes from different regions of India -- very different and unique tastes. I liked Banganapalli the most. I would definitely like to see more varieties of Mango here in Belgium/Europe."
"Alphanso, Kesar, and Banganapall have a huge market in Europe due to their high demand. Events like this will create more awareness about Indian mangoes in Europe," said Manish, an online mango trader.