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What is ailing Kenya Mangoes that only few make it to the market

Mango leading counties in production are Makueni (21%), Machakos (21%), Kilifi  15%) and Kwale (13%) according to Horticulture validated Report 2012. However both domestic and export markets are not sufficiently supplied begging the question how can the mango potential be fully exploited.

Poring over the mentioned report, from 2010-2012 the quantity and returns from under mango production was 47, 051 ha, yielded 593, 499 tons worth Ksh. 10.4 m. In 2011; the land area increased to 59, 260 fetching Ksh. 11.9m. For 2012, the area diminished to 57, 021ha, but production increased to 2.8m ton slicing a market value of Ksh.13.5m.

About 40% of mangoes produced in Kenya are lost at the post-harvest stage due to losses incurred from fruit fly, seed weevil, anthracnose and powdery mildew. Also poor harvesting and post-harvest handling methods, wanting storage, transportation and packaging contribute to this loss.

The country mango processing industry is operating at a lower capacity than it is capable of. USAID-KHDP notes that the mango processing industry operates at 34-40% of their capacity as a result of inadequate supply of quality mangoes.

Wilfred Yako, Acting General Manager, Technical and Advisory Service Department; HCDA hold the view that most farmers prefer selling their produce for fresh markets as processors pay low prices. Most processors pulp for export market.

According to Yako, there is a general shortage of grafted planting materials of improved and higher yielding mangoes. The planting materials are also expensive making farmers often use inferior seedlings obtained by germinating mango seeds from indigenous varieties. Such un-grafted trees take much longer to bear fruit. Whereas grafted trees begin to bear fruit within 3 to 4 years, ungrafted trees will take at least 5 years to bear fruit, depending on the growing conditions.

Significant planting of improved mango business increased steadily. Even though the area under mango cultivation increased between 2010 and 2011, in 2012 there was a slight drop. In 2010 the area May - June 2014 29 cultivars are found in Makueni, Meru, Murang’a, Nairobi, Nakuru, Siaya, Taita Taveta, Tana River, Tharaka Nithi, Bungoma, Kitui, Embu, Machakos, Kiambu Counties among other regions.

Apple and Ngowe cultivars are mainly grown in the coastal area. Nationally, production of these two varieties account for 39% and 17% respectively. Ngowe is preferred by processors, in addition to Tommy Atkins, Van Dyke and Kent. Apple is the variety of choice for export and fresh fruit domestic market because of it colour and aroma when ripe. Although all cultivars to some extent are vulnerable to anthracnose, Apple and Ngowe are some of the mango varieties resistant to this disease, the mostresistant cultivar being Tommy Atkins. Kent mature lately after others, have been harvestedmaking it fetch better price.

Majority of the mango varieties grown in Kenya are not preferred in the European markets. This market is big but locks out many growers seeking new market opportunities because of its narrow varietal preferences and stringent phytosanitary issues, as opposed to the local markets. Nonetheless Kenyan mango processors receive inquiries for supply of mango pulp to Europe and the only hindrance is GAP certification.

Josephine Simiyu, Senior Horticultural Officer, HCDA clarified that other cultivars such as Florida, Kent, Van Dyke and Tommy Atkins suitable for high altitudes have been introduced and tremendous progress realized in production and marketing. These varieties are acceptable in the EU markets, and with the exception of Florida, have a degree of resistance to anthracnose.

Virtually all mangoes export from Kenya are sold in Middle East, which represent an estimated 7% of world mango imports. This market is less selective, not very strict with phytosanitary issues as the USAand EU. Most of mangoes sold in this market are from India and Pakistan. Although Kenya’s mangoes command almost double price as those from Pakistan and India, imports from Kenya have been on the increase whilst those from India and Pakistan are registering declines in volumes and value. Kenya advantage in these markets is based on the strong demand for Apple Mango, coupled with thefact that Kenya mango export season occurs when India and Pakistan are out of season.

Every February and November, HCDA works with Kenyan mango growers to exhibit in Germany at Fruit Logistca andDubai’s World of Perishable exhibitions respectively. This is promoting Kenya mango industry by facilitating growers’ interaction with importer. Business opportunities have been realized in these forums says Yako.

Yako wound up by asking mango farmers to be vigilant on their orchards; to be able to notice any pest and disease infections at early stage so as to contain it with minimal losses. He also backed adoption of mango value addition through drying.



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