Mango is clearly the ‘king of fruits’, especially in the tropics. Unscrupulous traders encourage farmers to spray the trees and the fruits with insecticides and fungicides, many of which are banned in the advanced countries. The mango crop can be grown free from poisonous insecticides and fungicides that are freely used by commercial mango cultivators, especially those not using GAP (Good Agricultural Practices recommended by the European Union, Japan, USA, Canada, Australia and other health conscious countries). The fruits can be naturally ripened in dry hay as was done earlier or in specially-designed ripening chambers.
Ripening chambers with catalytic converters for converting alcohol into ethylene are the norm in Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra. The Regional Fruit Research Station at Vengurla even makes this facility available at nominal fee to the mango cultivators in the region. The practice of dipping the mangoes into a solution of Ethephon or Ethrel to trigger the production of ethylene can be entirely dispensed with. The same holds good for the use of calcium carbide to produce acetylene gas used for ripening fruits as also for gas welding of non-ferrous metals like copper, bronze and brass. Ripening can be done without adverse effect to human health.
To a true-blue Goan, mango means Mankurad or Malcurada. One can use all methods of reasoning but they will prove futile until one gives the Goan a Ratna mango and calls it a king-size Mankurad. Ratna is a hybrid of Neelam and Ratnagiri Alphonso developed at the Regional Fruit Research Station, Vengurla of the DBS Konkan Krishi Vidyapeet, Dapoli. It is not something that happened overnight or in the first shot; it is the 113th cross of the Neelam and R Alphonso that was selected. It is large sized, 500 to 900 grams in weight that is between half kilo and a kilo per fruit. Sindhu is the back cross of Ratna with Alphonso to reinforce the red blush and other Alphonso traits. Its fruit is about 300 grams and the seed is very small and thin. Having said that, it is nowhere near the Mankurad, Ratna or Ratnagiri Alphonso in taste.
The Ratnagiri Alphonso itself seems to be a variant of the Mankurad that was selected at a village called Pawas in Maharashtra, grafted and planted in large orchards, unlike the Goan Mankurad that remained a tree in home gardens. In Goa, one grew a few mango trees for home consumption of fruits and distribution to neighbours and friends as gifts. The commercial aspect is still difficult to enthuse a Goan. The Ratnagiri Alphonso is the choice export mango variety from the Konkan. Its fruit is about 260 grams. Obviously, it is not related to the Goa Afonsa or the Nicolau Afonso that we call Alphonso in Goa.