Mango industry in Kenya has grown significantly over the last few years; in
size, geographical location, commercial as well as homestead cultivations.
Growing of mangoes in Kenya is not only taking place in Coastal, and
Ukambani region but also has expanded to other parts of the country;
Central, Nyanza, Western, Rift Valley region, among other regions.
As a result of these expansions, mango farming has become a favorite fruit among Kenyans. More people are embracing farming of the crop for consumption as well as for economic gains.
A visit to Murang’a County leads us to Macharia wa Nyama’s farm, in Maragua Constituency. As we enter his homestead we are attracted by the breath taking scene of countless mango trees doting many acres of land. This is one of the major mango farms in the country.
According to Joseph Ng’ang’a who is the farm manager, they have over 10,000 trees of different grated mango varieties on the 50 acres piece of land, planted in eleven blocks. “We have several varieties; Ngowe, Apple,Kent, Tommy Artkins, Van Dyke, Keitt, Haden, Boribo, Sensation, Sabine among other varieties”, he elucidated.
He attests that Mangoes are easy to grow unlike other type of fruits which require a lot of attention. They do well in loam and sandy soils and do not require much water, except during the initial stages of planting. They are fairly resistant to drought and average distributed rainfall is adequate for proper plant development.
Mangoes are first planted as seeds where they are watered and fertilized with manure and DAP to achieve a healthy rootstock. Proper seedlings which have green healthy foliage and buds with no diseases and rot are selected and used as rootstock. Between six months to one year, they are grafted with a carefully selected scion from a successful grafted mango tree that produces regular quality fruits and flowers.
Grafted mango trees take close to three to four years to be ready for fruiting and fruits can be harvested for a period of four months, every season. “On average, a single tree in this farm can yield to a maximum of 500 fruits in a season.
The harvesting time in Murang’a is from December to March but its peak season is January. We usually sell per size of the mango; bigger sizes goes for 15 shillings each, while smaller sizes go for 10 shillings each, Ng’ang’a said.
They sell some of their produce to Kevian Kenya Limited, Located in Thika town which is famously known for production of Afia Juice. The local markets have not been left behind either since the middlemen throng the farm and purchase the produce which they transport to other parts the country. Nga’ng’a attests that to achieve a bumper harvest, they usually crop manage the mangoes to the latter.
This entails pruning to remove excess and diseased branches. Spraying regularly to control mites and white flies as well as erecting traps to control flies and other insects.
He is quick to note that, demand for Mangoes has increased by a great margin; from within the County and also they have started receiving orders from neighboring countries.
Kenya’s mango industry has a key competitive advantage that makes its value proposition unique to the market. The Country prides itself in having one of the longest mango seasons that ranges from October to March (High season) and another shorter season that ranges from April to June covering mainly the Coastal region.
This makes it possible for Kenya to supply its main market in the Middle East when there big suppliers such as India and Pakistan are off season.
To the advantage of the processing industry, Ngowe variety grown mainly at the Coast, has proven to produce very high quality pulp that is used for juice processing mango based drinks, jams, mango ice-cream, dessert, puddings, bakery fillings, baby foods, flavors as well as yoghurt and confectionery.
Apart from farming mangoes, they have diversified to Hass avocado cultivation where they have currently planted 4,000 seedlings.