India Swaps Mangoes for Harley Davidson Motorcycles

Indian laborers sort mangoes prior to their being sent to others parts of the country at the wholesale mango market on the outskirts of Bangalore. (Photo: Dibyangshu Sarkar / AFP-Getty Images)

Mangoes are known as the "king of fruits," while iconic Harley Davidson is the ultimate cult motorbike worldwide.

In a swap deal, India has just sent its first freight of mouth-watering mangoes to the United States while allowing the importation of Harley Davidson bikes with an engine capacity of 800 cc or above if they comply with Euro-III emission norms.

The mangoes have hit the American market after a break of more than two decades, while the American bike imports were not allowed into India due to its high emission norms.

Export of mangoes had been restricted earlier by the United States because of pest-risk. The fruits have now undergone strict irradiation treatment to confirm to phytosanitary requirements set by the quarantine authority.

The first shipment of 150 boxes of pristine alphonso and kessar mangoes has just been sent to the American market. They are expected to cost $36 per dozen.

According to K.S. Maney, chairman of Agriculture and Processed food products Export Development Authority, India produces about 14 million tons of mangoes of which nearly 65-70,000 tons are exported annually.

"At present, we can export almost 8,000-10,000 tons of fruit to the U.S. annually," said Maney.

The reopening of the American market came through when President George Bush, during a visit to India, announced at a public function in New Delhi last year that Indian mangoes would be available in United States supermarkets.

Like his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao, Bush is reported to have a craving for the Indian mango, one of the most prized epicurean pleasures associated with the country.

It is said that next to sights and smells of their homeland, Indians living overseas mostly miss — other than Bollywood movies — the delectable, sweet fruit that hits the market during the summer months.

Of the over 40 known types of the fruit are grown worldwide, India is home to some 1,000 sub-species. The best-known varieties are: Alphanso, Kesar, Banganpalli, Totapuri, Kessar, Langra, Dussehri. Amrapali and Chausa.

The mango is a versatile fruit. Its bark, the pit, skin are used in traditional Indian medicine. It is known to work as an anti-viral, antiseptic, expectorant, contraceptive and anti-asthmatic and even laxative.

The unripe tart fruit is used for making chutneys, and panna, a drink to beat the summer heat, pickle to tickle a meal. The ripe fruit can be added to soufflés and curries. The fruit pulp can be used in making juices , nectars, jams and squashes.

It is also called fruit of love in India for its aphrodisiac qualities. The mango leaves are part of the Indian tradition. It is a must during weddings and religious ceremonies. The leaves are also hung on front doors as a mark of good luck on most Indian homes.

Mangoes are full of nutrients. While the green ones have high Vitamin A count, the ripe fruits have Vitamin C to treat blood disorders.

The fruits lineage goes back to the Indian myths and folklore with tales of how emperors drooled over its sweet juices while poets penned reams of odes to it.

India already exports the fruit to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Britain, Kuwait and Bangladesh.

Harley-Davidson, Inc. is an American manufacturer of motorcycles based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It is one of the two remaining American mass-producers of motorcycles. The company emphasizes heavy bikes designed for cruising on the highway and known for their distinctive exhaust note.

Until recently, India didn't specify emission standards for motorcycles with engine capacity above 500 cc, in effect ruling out the import of such bikes from international manufacturers such as Harley Davidson, along with other major cycle makers like Yamaha Motor Co. Ltd. and Suzuki Motor Corporation.

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