THe kenyan mango

image (3)

Mango season in Kenya starts on October to March where there are several varieties but most common are apple (round mango) and ngowe (long mango) among others. Although the mango tree is not indigenous to Kenya, it has been cultivated in the Coast Province for centuries. 

Some of these are still productive, e.g. along the Tana River, and some of them have been given names which to this day are still valued. Kitoovu, Kimji, Klarabu, Punda and Mayai are of poor quality but better known are cultivars like Apple, Ngowe, Boribo, Batawi and Dodo. 

Of these, a few have steadily lost ground to a generation of cultivars introduced in the 1970s and 1980s distinguished by greater resistance to anthracnose (Colletotrichum), powdery mildew (Oidium), their very attractive colour and good shelf life.

The mango industry in Kenya has expanded considerably over recent years, not only in size but also in the geographical location of commercial and homestead plantings.But this has been herald challenges for farmers, who are struggling with post-harvest losses, estimated at between 40-50 per cent and poor prices,with the major cause for post harvest losses being the fruit fly menace.

Can this situation be better? Let us do the math. A mango tree bears an average of 200 fruits per season. Therefore, a smallholder farmer with 50 trees can harvest approximately 10,000 pieces of mangoes per season. If the farmers sell the fruits to the brokers at the farm gate price of Sh3, the fruits will fetch a paltry 30,000 per season.The cost of a fruit fly trap is sh.370 which is enough to cover quarter an acre/ 10 trees. So for 50 trees you require 5 traps on the minimum, remember the more the better. sh.370*5 translates to sh.1850.This is only about 6.1% of the total revenue, yet there is guarantee of better yields and more revenue.

Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) has brought in five new mango varieties ; Haden, Van Dyke, Tommy Atkins, Sensation and Kent from Florida in the United States for the farmers who were previously growing conventional mango varieties like Boribo, Ngoe and Apple, which yield at most 200 fruits per tree. The new varieties, can yield between 1,000 to1, 200 fruits per tree.