Shiva Puri, The Kathmandu Post, 16 May 2018
Local traders are warning customers to think twice before eating mangoes sold at the markets. They are warning that the markets in Tarai districts have already been overrun with imported mangoes from India laced with hazardous chemicals. Local Nepali mangoes are still not yet ready for consumption as it needs another month to ripen.
The shiny mangoes from India are claimed to be artificially ripened with hazardous chemicals. Authorities are not aware of the potential health risks from eating the imported mangoes and no steps have been taken to regulate their sale.
If consumed, these artificially ripened mangoes can affect the neurological system and result in headaches, dizziness, sleep disorder and other mental problems, doctors have warned.
For the past few weeks, markets like Chandranighapur, Garuda, Gaurkatariya and Samanpur of the district have been stocked with imported mangoes from India. Local traders claim that a number of traders have been selling mangoes laced with hazardous chemicals.
Fruit seller Ram Surat Sah said the local production is not ready for market. “Taking advantage of the short supply of local products, Indian sellers introduced the farm products ripened using chemicals.” According to Sah, local products will be fit for consumption in the next one month.
Most of the chemical mixed mangoes imported from India are ‘Gulabkhas’ type imported from Sarangpur, India. “With consumption of such fruit, people are likely to suffer from the side effects in the long term,” said Subhash Chaudhary, a doctor.
The unscrupulous traders are selling chemical laced mangoes as the profits on them are higher. The Indian mangoes cost Rs120 per kg while the local mango cost around Rs60-70 per kg. “As the imported mangoes fetch a good price during the off season, traders are encouraged to sell such produce,” a local trader said.
Meanwhile, the consumers’ right activists have started a campaign to raise awareness to prevent people from consuming the tainted mangoes.
Tika Ghimire, secretary at Consumer Welfare Protection Forum, said they have cautioned the consumers from buying and eating the imported mangoes. “The government authority should conduct prompt market monitoring to protect the consumers,” Ghimire said.
According to the District Agriculture Development Office, mango production this year has surged significantly in the district. The office has also urged consumers to consume only local produce after the onset of the main production season.
The authorities are reported to have conducted no market monitoring since last year. Chief District Officer Govinda Prasad Rijal however said that they would start market inspection to control growing anomalies in the market. Rijal also expressed his commitment to take action against the wrongdoers.