When mangoes bear fruit in the Gulf Arabian desert

June 20th, 2008 - 11:49 am ICT by IANS  

Dubai, June 20 (IANS) Mango, often referred to as the ‘queen of fruits’, is being cultivated successfully in the arid Arabian desert, thanks to the efforts of an industrial city in Qatar and India’s Reliance Industries Limited (RIL). Around 3,000 trees on a mango orchard developed in the Ras Laffan Industrial City (RLIC), 80 km northeast of the Qatari capital of Doha, has started bearing mature-green, ready-to-pluck fruits, Qatar’s Peninsula daily said.

The trees were planted across a four-acre plot four years ago and now the trees are around four to five feet high. Each tree is now laden with 10 to 20 fruits, the report said. The whole project came about following a trip to India by Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Energy and Industry Abdullah Bin Hamad Al Attiyah some years back.

During the course of the trip, Al Attiyah visited Reliance Industries Limited’s Jamnagar refinery in Gujarat and was attracted by a mango orchard there. Called Dhirubhai Ambani Lakhi Baugh, it was the realization of a dream of the Reliance founder to grow an orchard like the one Mughal emperor Akbar had centuries back.

Also called Lakhi Baghi, around 100,000 mango trees were grown according to the wishes of Akbar, a famous connoisseur of mangoes, in the orchard at Darbhanga in Bihar.

The Dhirubhai Ambani Lakhi Baugh in Jamnagar too has over 100,000 mango trees. It grows nearly 40 varieties of the fruit - including ever popular ones like Alphonso, Kesar, Ratna and Neelam and even foreign varieties like Tomy Atkins and Kent of the US and Lily, Keit and Maya of Israel - and the products under the brand name ‘RIL Mangoes’ are sold in markets across the world.

According to the Peninsula report, after the Qatari minister expressed interest in having a similar orchard, officials from Reliance Petroleum visited Qatar to inspect the site located at RLIC. Situated along the northeast coast of Qatar, RLIC covers an area of 106 sq km. The city houses some of the elite names in the world of energy such as ExxonMobil, Shell, Dolphin Energy and Qatar’s Qatargas and RasGas LNG production facilities.

“Experts from the company (Reliance Petroleum) surveyed the proposed site in Ras Laffan in June 2002 and studied the weather pattern, conducted soil tests and submitted a report to RLIC; and the project was launched in 2004,” the newspaper quoted RLIC sources as saying.

Today, as many as 10 varieties of the fruit, including Alphonso and Kesar, are being grown in the orchard which is located on the northeastern corner of RLIC.

And so the fruit, immortalized by Kalidas, Amir Khusro and Ghalib through their poetic works, finds a new home in the Gulf Arabian desert in the 21st century.

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