It is the season of mangoes and everyone is trying to call their Kamba friends to ‘secure the bag’. Indeed, the ‘Kamba nation’ produces lots of mangoes and partly due to dry/hot season they experience, their mangoes are always sweeter.
Statistically, they also produce the highest number of mangoes in the country. So it isn’t a cliché, its reality.
Mangoes are grown on approximately 15,000 hectares in Kenya. Its value chain is growing by more than 12 percent per annum, indicating growing interest, informed by the annual yield of 500,000 metric tons.
Makueni and Machakos lead the mango production at 30.4 percent and 23.2 percent respectively, producing close to half of all mangoes in the country. They are followed by Kilifi at 15.5 percent. The rest of the counties are less than 10 percent in the following order; Meru, Embu, Bungoma, Tana River, Elgeyo Marakwet, Murang’a, Tharaka Nithi, Kitui, Siaya, Taita Taveta and Busia.
The value chain contributes approximately Ksh2.442 billion to household incomes and the country’s GDP.
Mango processing can increase availability and consumption of locally produced mango juice, reduce post-harvest losses, increase efficiency and create jobs. The jobs can be created in input supply, spraying, packing, aggregating and marketing second-grade fruits.
Mango value chains can create 3.5 million jobs in a year, a study by Partnership for African Social and Governance Research (PASGR) through its Utafiti Sera (research-policy) program in collaboration with the Centre for Africa Bio-Entrepreneurship (CABE) and Alternatives Africa, asserted.
Processing can also catalyse growth in corresponding value chain segments that require human resources like production, training and extension services and orchard expansion.
Only six percent of farmers engage in processing of mangoes, the study found out.
In addition, youth activities along the mango value chain are mostly in production, at 46.6 percent. They are followed by distribution at 20.1 percent, aggregation, marketing and trade at 17.2 percent, processing at 10.9 percent, seedling at 3.4 percent, training at 1.1 percent and services at 0.6 percent.
The utafiti sera study also revealed that only 17 percent of small-scale farmers produce Ngowe variety that is suitable for juice processing.
More importantly, poor seed and agronomic practices and marketing deficiencies hamper effective youth participation in the value chain.