Bitter winters are no match for Japanese mango farmers who have turned to new greenhouse technologies to ensure consumers can buy the prized local fruit all year round.
Associate professor at Japan’s Kinki University Dr Shinya Kanzaki said despite the country’s hostile climate modern agricultural techniques have turned the mango industry into an unlikely success story.
Domestic mango is recognised as a luxury fruit in Japan, where it is tradition to give high-end, flawless fruits as gifts.
The plant growth regulator in paclobutrazol commonly used in Australia to promote flowering and fruiting in the mango tree, is not permitted in Japan so temperature-based control is fundamental for production.
Such production techniques use a huge amount of energy at great expense but in Japan’s luxury fruit market it is not uncommon for prime mangoes to fetch more than one hundred dollars, which offsets the high costs of production and makes the industry viable.
“The Japanese domestic mango market is the most expensive in the world,” Dr Kanzaki said.
Speaking at the 29th International Horticultural Congress in Brisbane this week, Dr Kanzaki said each mango is personally netted, provided with reflectors for colour enhancement and left to self-ripen with no human intervention before being placed in soft sponge for transport.
“We treat our mangoes with very special care, as you would treat an egg or an infant child.”
“A practice obviously very different to the Australian industry.”
“I want to introduce the Japanese practice to the Australian public, and
(show) how endless possibilities can be achieved even in the most hostile conditions.”
Dr Kanzaki is currently collaborating with Australian researchers to breed a new type of mango species.
“We hope to implement a new variety of mango to the Australian and Japanese market, something that would be very beneficial to the industry as variation is very important for consumers,” he said.
Over three thousand delegates attended the IHC this week, with Dr Shinya Kanzaki’s presentation a precursor to the 11th International Mango Symposium being held in Darwin, on 29 September next year.