Food for thought

What the Alphonso mangoes exemplify is the shoddiness of Indian business practice.

Alphonso mangoes from India will, for now, not be tempting taste buds in Europe. Last week, the EU banned them for harbouring pesky bugs. This is not the first time buyers have had to turn back Indian exports. In fact, the country has a flourishing market in what is euphemistically called “export rejects”. Translation: not good enough. And unfortunately, “not good enough” is how one must describe a fair chunk of India’s economy.

Take those mangoes, a prized export with fans across the world. Growers should be improving harvesting methods and picking at the right time to match shipping schedules. A full pest control regimen would ensure that nothing travels with the fruit that shouldn’t. Proper packaging would help fruits survive the trip to markets without bruising. Put all this together and the mangoes would fetch a higher price. Instead, buyers must contend with spoilage and the threat of stowaway pests.

What the mangoes exemplify is the shoddiness of Indian business practice. But as India dreams big about industries from steel to motor cars, it might want to ponder how something as simple as selling mangoes can teach it about doing business right: to be good enough and more for the world.

Published: May 4, 2014 04:00 AM