Mango lovers, there is a possibility that you might drool reading about the scrumptious varieties of mangoes that India’s Mango Man has grown over the years.
Kaleem Ullah Khan is an 82-year-old horticulturist and fruit breeder. He is India’s Mango Man with a record of growing 300 diverse varieties of mangoes from his 120-year-old mango tree.
Born in Malihabad, Lucknow, Khan is a school dropout who was just a teenager when he began looking after his family farm. It was during those years he conducted his first experiments using grafting techniques.
Grafting is a technique of plugging a section of one plant into another such that their union garners new varieties. In Khan’s case, new mango varieties.
What’s super interesting is his nuanced way of creating nomenclature for his beloved fruit. Reportedly, he has named his mangoes after famous celebrities such as Sachin Tendulkar, Sonia Gandhi, and Narendra Modi. There is another called Anarkali.
People will come and go, but the mangoes will remain forever, and years after, whenever this Sachin mango will be eaten, people will remember the cricketing hero.
As per Khan, one of his best and earliest creations has been a mango variety called Aishwarya Rai. He said, “The mango is as beautiful as the actress.”
Every day, he walks to his treasured 120-year-old expansive mango tree that stands 30 ft. tall with extensive plump branches. He considers his tree an ‘orchard and the biggest mango college in the world.’ The enormous tree has been home to 300 different varieties of mango with unique juicy flavors and sizes.
No two fingerprints are the same, and no two mango varieties are similar. Nature has gifted mangoes with traits like humans.
Significant climate changes are impacting the overall production. Reportedly, Khan considers intensive farming techniques and low-priced unreliable insecticides to be the prime reason for a reduced number of mango varieties.