Indian fruit and spice

Fri, Jun 13, 2008

Indian Climate Change

I feel slightly pathetic when I moan about the snails and slugs eating my oriental salad leaves. This is hardly a major problem compared to parts of the world where local people depend on regular crop harvests for their day to day survival.

This week the Times reported about the implication of climate change for many farmers in India

Climate change blamed as mango harvest goes sour

Girl eating a mango

A severe winter has wiped out 3 million tonnes of mangos. The Mango Mela, an agricultural fair dedicated to the fruit, which was held in Bangalore recently, featured only 20 varieties, compared with more than 100 last year. One farmer said that 75 per cent of his crop had been wiped out by rain.

Mango fans have also said that changes in climatic conditions mean modern mangoes are less sweet. The decline in sweetness is because the hot, dry winds that sweep across northern and western India in the summer and help to ripen crops have failed to blow.

Insram Ali, the president of the Mango Growers Association of India, said: “The mango fruit needs heat to ripen. And with the global warming affecting weather changes across the globe it has been hit hard.”

This alleged decline in flavour will unnerve much of India, as the fruit provides incomes for hundreds of thousands of smallholders. India grows half of the mangoes in the world but only exports a tiny portion.

With domestic demand more than ample other countries have had to depend on barter arrangements to supply their Indian mangoes — in recent years the US has offered Harley-Davidson motorcycles in exchange for the fruit.

Like most farmers, Indian rural communities depend on the balance of nature to produce the fruit and vegetables they need to survive . Many also make their living from the valuable export markets to 120 different countries. The afects of climate change on mangoes for western shoppers means that  we will probably have to pay more in the supermarket . Surely, a small price to pay if it allows local communities in India to maintain their meagre existence?

As well as fruit, India also produces 2.75 million tonnes of different spices valued at approximately 4.2 billion US dollars. Due to its varying climates – from tropical to sub-tropical, 45c to 0c temperate, almost all of the 28 states and seven union territories of India grow at least one spice in abundance. Kew Gardens have set up an excellent web-site with information about the plants and spices of South Asia

I visited Kerala in Southern India during 2005 to make a programme with the BBC. I was amazed at the wonderful lush vegetation and crops that grow in this part of the world. Kerala is known as the spice capital of the world and is the home of black pepper in India. The farmers here grow nearly 95% of the country’s black pepper. Much of this is exported, particularly to industrially developed countries which consume 89% of all the black pepper grown in the world. For more information about Keralan spices go to:

If you plan to visit Kerala it is a good idea to contact a travel company that respects the local people and environment

If a trip is out of the question, this video extract will transport you to God’s own country, as Kerala is justifiably known.

This post was written by:

- who has written 872 posts on My Climate Change Garden.

I am not an experienced gardener - more of an enthusiastic amateur who learns by trial and error and who is keen to "manage" the effects of shifting weather patterns on my garden. Writing this blog is my passion and it has evolved over 12 years to inspire engagement with climate change outside our back doors, in our personal gardens and green spaces. My mission is to fertilise and expand this platform to grow a community of global gardeners communicating about the effects of climate change on our plants and exploring how each individual can make small changes in our lives to become more sustainable. The future of our gardens and #OurPlanet is in our hands - please plant your own seeds for our collective sustainable future.

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