Food safety officials from Andhra raided the Nunna Mango Market in Vijayawada on Tuesday, to curb any malpractice of artificial ripening of the fruit.
Speaking to the media, the officials later said that they had found many packets of 'Chinese Ethylene Powder’, in the cartons that were being used to transport the mangoes.
Generally, Calcium Carbide, a dangerous and corrosive chemical, is used to ripen mangoes quickly.
With summer approaching, farmers pluck mangoes when they are still unripe, and send them to the market, where traders ripen them artificially, to clear their stocks.
A safer and legal way to speed up the ripening process of fruits is to gas them with ethylene, a natural ripening agent.
Several states provide the farmers and traders with ethylene chambers in large markets.
However, in case of the Nunna market, sachets labelled ‘Chinese Ethylene Powder’ were being used.
"This ethylene is in the form of a starchy powder, which slowly releases ethylene gas that causes mangoes and other fruits to ripen. Ethylene gas chambers are often used to ripen fruits, however, there is no clarity on the safety of ethylene sachets,” Food Safety Controller N Purnachandra Rao was quoted as saying.
“Since there is a ban on calcium carbide, the traders are using ethylene powder indiscriminately without following any scientific method. For now, we are letting the traders go. We have collected a few samples to be sent for testing," he added.
This comes less than a week after officials in Hyderabad, cancelled the licences of 91 shops in the Kothapet fruit market, stating that they were using fruits artificially ripened with carbide.
A few days later, the Hyderabad police also arrested four people and seized huge quantities of calcium carbide, ethylene powder and other chemicals which the accused were allegedly using to ripen mangoes.
The Nunna Mango market is said to be one of the largest mango markets in Asia, with around 80 wholesale shops present.
However, the yield has been low this year for the farmers.
Speaking to The New Indian Express, a mango merchant said, “The stock availability is very low this season. Around 80 tonnes of mangoes are arriving at Nunna Mango market every day instead of the expected 300 tonnes."
The TNIE report adds that there was a 30% to 40% decrease in the yield among all varieties compared to 2016.