THE mango (mengelera indica) is said to have originated from east India. Buddhist monks were believed to have introduced this fruit to Malaysia in the fourth and fifth centuries.
Legend has associated the mango tree with Lord Buddha. Prosperity and good luck are associated with mango tree-planting in some cultures.
It is the only fruit that transcends all food taboos and is enjoyed by a wide spectrum of people the world over.
It is the national fruit of India, Pakistan and the Philippines. In Bangladesh, it has been named the country’s national tree (according to a source on Wikipedia).
Mangoes are a favourite in many cultures and a popular ingredient in many local and foreign recipes.
Malaysia is a tropical country with plenty of sunshine and rainfall, and the favourable climate makes it possible for different species of mangoes to be grown locally. It’s common to see mango trees in many rural and urban areas nationwide.
Many enterprising agriculture and agro-industry farmers have taken to planting mango trees as a commercial venture. Most are found in the northern region, especially in Perlis. The environment and climate in this region favour the growth of the delicious harumanis species. Apparently, there are nearly 2,000 mango farmers in Perlis. Practically all the local varieties of harumanis come from Perlis and the fruit is in demand among locals and foreigners.
Recently, the report of a Perlis harumanis farmer setting fire to his orchard in protest at the low prices of the fruit shocked the nation, especially nature and mango lovers.
Many cannot believe that a farmer, after toiling on his mango farm for so long, would go to the extent of destroying his orchard.
It is understandable for the farmer to be upset when his hard work did not pay off. The bumper harvest of this particular species of mangoes has created a glut in the market. This happens to all fruits and agriculture produce when it is in an open market system.
The supply and demand factor is essential, and it determines the pricing, provided there is no artificial manipulation.
However, if the farmer had consulted the agriculture marketing authorities regarding his dilemma, he may have been appropriately advised. The authorities could have helped him with his marketing strategies.
Why did he take matters into his hands?
The fact that the farmer had decided to torch his orchard shows that the agriculture authorities have failed to keep tabs on ground realities or the farmers were ill-advised or misled by certain quarters.
The act of torching commercial fruit plants as a mark of protest should be condemned as a heinous act against nature. It is similar to the burning of chicks by poultry farmers in protest at the low price of chickens or poultry several years ago.
The act goes against all religious teachings and civilised human norms. It is understandable if the fruit orchard is torched to prevent the spread of a highly infectious plant bug or disease, but to destroy it because of unfavourable market forces and prices is unacceptable.
The farmer should instead be grateful for the bumper harvest and thankful that mother nature has been kind to us. Imagine if we were hit with a severe drought, which many other countries in the world are facing now.
There have been cases of farmers destroying their produce to manipulate the market or as a mark of protest. The authorities should seriously look into the plight of these farmers and, at the same time, ensure such acts do not recur. Perhaps, a special law could be drawn up to prevent this mindless practice.
We should learn to appreciate nature and view bumper harvests of agriculture produce as a gift to mankind by mother nature. To destroy any agricultural produce without good reason is evil.