Mango Value Chain Promises More Job Opportunities
Many would rather to veer into other areas of agribusiness investment instead of Mango as a produce line, especially because of the gestation period in waiting for this tree crop. Flowering time for the crop takes as much as five years and even eight for some cultivars and from the time the flower emerges to the fruiting and maturity could take between 100-120 days.
However, the beauty of the value chain approach to agribusiness is that an investor can decide to purchase the fruit in bulk or do the processing into juice or puree or dry and pack the slices as intermediate product. It may not be necessary to start from the planting at farm level as would have been expected.
In West Africa and Nigeria, export of mango to EU countries or United States has been on a low scale for quite some time mainly due to quality issues and fruit fly attacks, which have hampered marketing campaign.
In light of the increasing unemployment pressure in Nigeria, the West African Agricultural Productivity Programme (WAAPP) is unfolding packages that would create more jobs even for the youths.
Though Cote D’Ivoire leads the ECOWAS region in the crop’s export to European markets, some Asian countries produce better quality drupe and have penetrated the market more. Food processors in the EU still find the dried mango suitable for their processing. As for Senegal, its exports fell 50 per cent in 2010, with around 3,000 tonnes shipped against 5 000 to 6 000 tonnes usually.
The West African market share in Europe only moved up three per cent in 2007 from 10 per cent in the late 90s.
Programme’s Coordinator for Nigeria, Prof. Damian Chikwendu revealed that export of dried mango is keeping many gainfully employed in countries like Mali and Burkina Faso. In the light of the opportunities, he commissioned a Lagos-based Nigerian engineering fabrication company, Nobex Technological Ltd, to produce prototypes and later make them available on a wider scale.
Burkina Faso is recorded as the forerunner in the export of dried mango, followed by Mali, Ghana and Senegal.
Exporting dried mangoes was considered to be a good opportunity to develop the agricultural sector in landlocked countries. But Chikwendu believes this is a value added product that will create jobs for youths, especially if they work in cooperatives and also for other entrepreneurs in Nigeria.
DRIED mango, as a healthy snack, is increasingly finding its way to supermarkets in highbrow supermarkets locally, but more in Europe, where processors rely on the dried form to produce healthier cereals. Due to the need to produce better tasting snacks in smaller portions to tackle obesity, investigations show that processors are depending on this form of food product to stimulate breakfast cereals and snack bar markets.
The West African dried mango, as an ingredient is perceived healthier; it is found to contain less sugar in some cases, and has become of more interest to importers from the EU.
Machine and quality
WHILE the quality of dried mango depends on the mango variety, the preservatives used and sugar levels. Products from West Africa have a good taste, according to organoleptic analysis in the trade, hence the window, which it has opened.
Due to the challenge of drying technique that has to be improved to compete with Asian producers, the WAAPP programme had to facilitate the fabrication of a modern drier.
Idowu Adeoya, Managing Director of the fabrication outfit, said the drier is part of the plan to reduce food wastage in the sub region, adding that it takes 20-24 hours for mango to dry under low temperature.
He revealed that there was a trip undertaken to Burkina Faso to see the kind of dryers there to help build the dried mango business in Nigeria. He said that drying mango would make the farmer earn more income and encourage him to go back to farm and produce more for the market.
“We are one of the mango platforms in Nigeria that benefited from the WAAPP initiative. It has made us to know that there are benefits in the business. Collaborating with WAAPP promises to be a booster to our fabrication line, especially because the Programme wants to assist us in marketing the machine. However, it would be needful to discourage the importation of drying machines into the country in order to help the local market,” Adeoya said.
On affordability of the equipment, he advised farmers and entrepreneurs to get the assistance of the Bank of Industry (BOI), provided there is a good business plan. He noted that there are different sizes and prices. He added that having a good business plan would help in seeking the support of BOI in sourcing the equipment.
Export market survey
AS a West African exporter, think about the capacity of your business, your target segment (country, food processing, retailers or consumers) and the scale of operation of the importer/wholesaler when establishing a business relationship. The best option would be to focus on wholesalers or small specialists, who also have to compete with the large players through specialisation, niche-markets and providing a better service to their clients.
If food processors are the target by exporters, they should note that they increasingly want to deal directly with exporters in developing countries, in order to get a better price and to be assured of regular supplies.
In comparison with the volume exported by Asian countries or South Africa, exports of dried mangoes from Burkina Faso, Mali and Ghana is still very small. For smallholders, the need to team up as cooperatives is more pressing, especially as there is competition, like in any business. In addition, the cost of energy, especially as in an atmosphere of poor power supply in Nigeria calls for weighing the options, even if drying by gas.
Other common problems in production that affect the quality are the poor infrastructure and lack of hygiene due to intensive manual processing. However, Adeoya said their drying machine is modern and technologically high, noting that it reduces drudgery of manual processing.
Fruit fly pest
THE effect of fruit fly pest, which was discovered in 2004 has caused losses in production, sometimes to as much as 80 per cent. This phytosanitary challenge led to the launching of regional initiatives by the ECOWAS in conjunction with the Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF) as well as the World Bank to control the flies. A €25 million fund by the European Union, in 2009, was put together for all stakeholders to tackle the pest.