The seasonal nature of mango farming has left both farmers and fruit processors in distress, as the farmers complain of lack of market in the harvest season, when there is a glut, whilst the processors are left looking high and low for raw materials in lean seasons.
Mango farmers across the country lose tonnes of produce to rot when there is a glut; the few agro processors are unable to absorb the large quantities of mangoes produced.
“The fruit processors are not able to take all that we produce. Normally they also complain that the farmers are not able to supply them with enough mangoes,” Obed Amevor, General Secretary of the Yilo Krobo Mango Farmers Association told the B&FT.
“But we have also realised they do not have the capacity to buy. Most of the farmers are GLOBALGAP certified, meaning they produce to the required quality standard,” he said.
However, Daniel Komayire, an Agronomist at HBW, an agro-processing company which processes 50 tonnes of mangoes daily, told the B&FT that the losses result from the supply glut during the harvest season, since most of the farmers mostly produce the same variety of mangoes in a season.
“There are two main seasons for planting mangos in this country; the major season which is in June/July; and the minor season, which is in January and February. But what we have realised is that, during the farming seasons, farmers plant the same variety of mangoes—Keitt. The problem that this causes is that, all the mangoes grow and ripe at the same time, thereby, creating oversupply in the market.”
Meanwhile, he explained, there are only three fruit processing companies that buy from the farmers, and because of the glut during this period, the local processing companies do not have the capacity to absorb all the produce.
“However, after the harvest season, the local processors become short of raw materials for production. That is why they complain of not getting a market for their produce, and we also complain of not getting the mango fruits when we need it,” Mr. Komayire said.
General Secretary of the Manya Krobo Mango Farmers Assocation, Abraham Akornor, also said the farmers’ predicament comes as a result of the one variety that they have become comfortable with.
“Almost all the farmers have one variety of mango we produce. The problem that this situation causes is that it creates oversupply in the market during the harvest period and the processors are not able to buy all,” he said.
The problem has compelled agro-processors in the country to import mangoes from countries such as Burkina Faso, South Africa, Brazil, Senegal, among others, outside the mango seasons.
The only solution, Mr. Komayire argues, is for farmers to plant other varieties that have a longer planting period so that the agro-processors can source their raw materials locally at the time they need them.
New mango varieties
Mr. Komayire said his outfit, in an attempt to help address the situation, has imported about 34 new varieties of mangoes, which have long planting duration than the keitt variety the local famers have been stuck to.
He further stated that the seed varieties are currently undergoing testing to determine their viability under local weather conditions in order to determine which ones to adopt.
The farmers’ associations are also calling on the private sector to invest more in agro-processing to help mop up excess supply of the produce.
They also want government to introduce programmes that will promote the mango industry and make it one of the most vibrant sub-sectors in the agric sector.
Mango has been identified as one of the main traditional fruits with demand as an export commodity and is, therefore, being promoted in Ghana, to become a major potential foreign exchange earner in the next 5-10 years.
A report by Joseph Baidoo-Williams, Director/Consultant at Project Management Experts (PME) Ltd, states that over US$66million worth of mangoes are lost annually by the farmers.
Another research work by the International trade Centre in 2012 shows that in terms of quantities, European imports of Ghanaian mangoes have fallen by more than 80 percent between 2007 and 2011, from 983 to less than 200 tonnes.
Most significantly, the report adds, Eurostat data show that Dutch imports from Ghana have completely stopped in 2011, which used to average 350 tons before that year.
The UK remained Ghana’s most significant partners, although quantities are insignificant when compared to other world and regional suppliers.
Source: Source: B&FT