For the Love of Mango!
by Erica Daniel
The best time to be in Ghana is hands down January and July. You may wonder why and I am here to let you in on a secret… It’s MANGO SEASON! As of January and July the juicy, plump, aromatic, sweet fruit fills the streets, shops and markets of Ghana.
Imagine yourself transported to mango heaven! Sometimes I feel like Bubba Blue from Forrest Gump when I talk about all that can be done with Mango! You can have fresh juice, smoothies, make chutney, souflee, fruit salad, grill it, use it as a marinate, put it in salad, make sorbet, infuse it with alcohol and so much more! The possibilities of what can be done with mangoes are endless and all so delicious.
If you are anything like me you may automatically begin to ask yourself why are there only two seasons? Shouldn’t mangoes grow year round? Chale, you are not alone! For years I have had the same question. The months I go without mangoes I feel so lost and empty inside.
Roses are red
Violets are blue
Oh Mango, when you are not in season, I sure do miss you!
Apparently, we should all be counting our blessing, as Ghana is allegedly the only country in the WORLD with TWO mango seasons. #Blessed #StopAllThatComplaining #IKnowItsHard
Truth of the matter is there are more than five varieties of mangoes grown in Ghana. It takes a mango tree four years to bear fruit but only hits peak maturation about its sixth year. Exporters and Economist alike coin mango the “Gold” fruit noting its exportation could truly boost the overall Ghanaian economy. However, the mango produced in country is barely enough to satisfy all of the mango lovers (like myself) in Ghana.
According to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, only 20 percent of yields in 2013 were exported. Of the remaining 80 percent, half was processed locally and the other half sold direct on the local market. In 2015, companies like Blue Skies, had to import 65 percent of mangoes from Brazil, Senegal, Burkina Faso, The Gambia and South Africa to meet production needs.
So what’s really the problem? Harvesting mangoes can present quite a challenge and is subject to extreme fluctuations. Transport and storage are among two of the largest barriers faced by farmers in bringing their product to the market. Thus, many farmers end up unable to capitalize on their entire harvest. Meaning those fruits unripe at the beginning of the season tend to fall victim to insects and often rot while still on the trees, (e.g. a lot of lost mango to the market).
The good news is a few investors see the gains in increasing the value chain for mangoes and stabilizing the cultivation of our delicious “gold” fruit. Hopefully overtime we will be able to enjoy a longer mango season and as a country, begin to reap the economic benefits of exporting the fruit.
So hang in their my fellow #MangoLovers! There is light at the end of the tunnel after all!