Mango Conference


Reports first National Mango Conference whose theme was “UNEARTHING THE GOLD IN MANGO” was held at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC) on 11th and 12th February 2010.
The overall objective of the conference was to bring together all the mango information scattered among the various stakeholders in the sector, with the ultimate aim of improving market access for the commodity.
The two day conference was convened and organized by the Ministry of Agriculture in collaboration with key stakeholders in the Mango Industry. The conference attracted participants from both the public and private sector and issues pertaining the mango industry along the value chain were discussed. Download presentations

Mango output in Kenya has increased steadily over the past decade to total production of 93,639 tonnes and yields have improved to the current level of over 16.42 tonnes per hectare (Economic Review of Agriculture 2008) with an export value of about Ksh.95 million.
Most of the mangoes produced are consumed within the same production area, or sold in urban markets of Kenya.
Mango exports from Kenya are declining despite the expansion in demand for fresh fruits in Europe and the Near East. Mangoes from Kenya cannot compete effectively because of unreliable supplies, arising from pest infestation and crop mismanagement, as well as inadequate infrastructure, which raise the costs and the risks of shipping products abroad.

Mango processing in Kenya has not expanded, and only a negligible share of total production is currently processed. Only one relatively large-size mango processing firm based in Coast Province processes local products. Other local juice and jam makers import mangoes in the form of concentrates mainly from Mauritius, Egypt and South Africa. In principle, therefore, there is potential for increasing the processing of local products. Local production, however, is of low quality. Ninety-five percent of mango produced in Kenya is made up of indigenous varieties. These, as already mentioned, are rich in fibre, and of little market value and are either consumed within the households or sold at very low prices in the village markets.

The major constraints which are currently hindering the development of the mango supply chain can be categorized according to the four basic stages in the supply chain: the farm level, the marketing stage, the processing stage and the export stage.
At the farm-level, key constraints faced by farmers are the lack of clean planting material, inadequate technology, the length of the production cycle and inadequate post-harvest handling facilities.
Planting material- there is a generalized shortage of grafted seedlings. Hence, farmers tend to use inferior, low yielding seedlings. Farmers do not have knowledge on improved production technology, and there is little or no use of fertilizers and pesticides.

Pests – mainly the mango seed weevil and fruit fly.

Diseases – mainly anthracnose and powdery mildew – are major problems. Some fruit trees are so tall and big such that spraying is only not viable but also impossible. Farmers often lack motorized pumps for effective pest and disease control. Coupled with this, is poor crop management practice, which leads to flower and fruit fall.
Where mango is harvested only once a year, as in the case of Eastern Province, mango farmers have diversified to other crops, including passion fruits, melons and seedling production, to smooth their income pattern throughout the year.
At harvest time, there is often an oversupply which leads to low prices and product losses.
Farmers suffer from poor post-harvest handling techniques, leading to significant losses, which affect returns to the farmer and traders. Furthermore, farmers do not have good storage facilities available at the farm level, and this forces them to sell their product immediately after harvest. No collective bargaining takes place on the price, and each farmer interacts individually with the trader and other buyers, often receiving prices well below reigning market prices.
At the marketing stage, a major constraint is the poorly developed transport infrastructure, such as the bad road conditions that serve production areas which further contribute to post-harvest losses and a deterioration of quality leading to low selling prices. In many districts, transport and shipping costs are in fact prohibitive, both within and outside the country.
Supply is not well organized with collection, grading and packing facilities and, therefore, farmers are not able to separate higher quality fruits to be remunerated accordingly. Moreover, farmers often lack the necessary information on alternative marketing possibilities and on alternative product uses, such as drying, and other options for value addition. Traders themselves often suffer from poor access to credit, which makes it difficult for them to finance their operations.
In regard to exports, inadequate post-harvest/husbandry control, wrong varieties for sea freight, inadequate sea freight facilities and high air freight costs are among the major constraints. Moreover, the need to comply with the EUREGAP and traceability standards, which are necessary to enter the EC market, constitute a further problem. Exporters themselves often suffer from price instability in international markets and from stiff competition from other countries like India, Pakistan, Brazil, Mexico and Costa Rica. These competitors offer higher quality varieties at lower prices, due mainly to lower shipping costs.
Concerning processing, major constraints are the insufficient plant capacity and organization of supplies. Currently, less than 1 percent of mangoes produced in Kenya are processed. The better quality fruits are exported, and processors are left with fruits of the lowest quality. Since production is seasonal it can only supply factories for seven months in a year.

On the consumption side, the price of natural mango juice is too expensive for domestic consumers, who mostly consume cheaper products and indigenous varieties. Relatively cheaper imported mango juices are available from Mauritius, South Africa and Egypt. These countries enjoy preferential tariffs under the regional trade agreement, COMESA. Further competition comes from locally manufactured, chemically sweetened mango flavoured soft drinks.

The mango farmers have not gained sufficiently from the produce partially due to lack of information, and more efforts is needed to improve the status quo. This forum therefore was an eye opener.

Presentation During The Conference
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