Kenya vision 2030 is the country’s blueprint for development, and its main aim is to achieve a middle-income country status by the year 2030. Agriculture is one of the driving forces towards achieving this goal and mango farming could be one of the areas where incomes in agriculture will rise thus generating additional income towards GDP (Gross Domestic Product) mainly through value addition and better yields of mangoes.
Mango farming in Kenya The mango tree has been cultivated in the country for centuries especially in the coastal area and is not indigenous. Ivory and slave traders are believed to have brought the seed into the country during the 14th century. It is considered one of the major fruit crops grown in the tropical and subtropical lowlands.
Historically it is native to Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, and Myanmar not to mention that it is grown in over 60 other countries across the world. In recent years we have experienced other areas in the country notably Makueni, Machakos, Kitui, Murang’a, Nakuru, Nairobi , Kiambu, Siaya, Tharaka Nithi, Embu, Bungoma, among other regions emerging and recording significant improvements especially with the introduction of cultivars.
Varieties of Mangoes Grown in Kenya There are many varieties of mango grown but the most common are round mango also referred to as Apple and long mango locally known as Ngowe among others. Some of the varieties along the Tana River have been given names valued up to this day. Kimji, Kitoovu, Klarabu, Punda, and Mayai are considered of poor quality though known cultivars are Apple, Batawi, Boribo, Dodo, and Ngowe. A few of the varieties have been replaced with a generation of cultivars which were introduced in the 1970’s and later 1980’s that are more resistant to antracnose (Colletotrichum) and powdery mildew(Oidium) in addition to the attractive color and prolonged shelf life.
As an industry in Kenya, Mango farming has experienced an expansion in the geographical location both for commercial and homestead plantings. A myriad of challenges have confronted farmers who struggled with poor prices and poor harvest losses caused by the fruit fly estimated to be between 40-50 percent. In this regard, Kenya Agricultural Research Institute ( KARI) introduced five new varieties ; Atkins, Haden, Kent, Sensation ,Tommy, and Van Dyke from the State of Florida in the USA for the Kenyan farmer to replace the conventional varieties like Apple, Boribo, and Ngowe that yield approximately 200 fruits per tree.
The new varieties yield from 1000 to 1200 fruits per tree marking a significant percentage of increase per tree. Mango fruit farming in Kenya – There’s Hope The origin of the word fruit is from Latin which means enjoyment. As an important fruit of the tropics, a mango is considered viable because of its appearance and incredible taste as a result of selected cultivars. Fruits from the different mango growing regions within the country are mainly consumed locally. In the past 30-40 years, commercial mango farming has developed as a result of local and imported cultivars.
This has translated to an increase of mango cultivation from an area of 500 ha in the 1970s to about 15,000 ha presently. Successful mango farmers in Kenya According to Rockefeller Africa, in 2016, up to 4000 farmers in Makueni earned one hundred and twenty million Kenyan shillings from the sale of mangoes to fresh produce markets and juice processors in six months. This came about as a result of training on mango trees husbandry, and the introduction of fly traps to curb infestation by pests which resulted in improved quality of produce.
A local newspaper reported that a farmer by the name Francis Kiplagat who hails from the slopes of the Kerio Valley grows mango varieties grown in Kenya which include Apple, Atkins, Kent, Tommy, and Van Dyke. Mr. Kiplagat’s annual returns from each variety is about Ksh 600,000. This is due to their better quality and nutritional value.
He has a message of hope to the youth that they give agriculture a chance and stop relying on white collar jobs. Commercial mango farming in Kenya Farming like any venture requires patience and time. A newly planted mango tree is expected to produce fruit within a period of 5 years. The land preparation entails deep ploughing then harrowing and leveling accompanied by a gentle slope for ease of drainage.
In dry zones, spacing varies from 10m by 10m but increases to 12m by 12m in areas with abundant rainfall and rich soils because of more vegetative growth. Mango cultivation in Kenya by region In Kenya, the arid Eastern region leads in producing of all mangoes grown at 61 percent, followed by Rift Valley standing at 30 percent and Coast closely at 28 percent. As the numbers indicate farming of mangoes has become popular with the locals. Regardless of the popularity, only a handful of consumers and potential growers are familiar with the characteristics of the variety of cultivars that are available.
Some of the characteristics that apply in differentiating varieties are the aroma, color, content, fiber, fruit shape, size, sweetness, seed size, taste, and resistance to diseases. Selection of a mango cultivar for production purposes should consider the following criteria: Adaptation to the local conditions ( e.g., rainfall patterns and dry spell) Alternating between flowering and fruiting Intended use and market requirements Level of tolerance to pest and disease infections Importance of mangoes to the economy Source of income Foreign exchange earner Creates employment Consumed as fruits Nutritional value Mango Tree Botany Mango is an evergreen plant that is deeply rooted which develops into huge trees mostly on deep soils.
The height and shape depend on the type of seedlings and cultivars. The mango tree is known for its long life with some specimens still producing fruit at over 150 years old. The leaves are pale green or red when young, and they mature to dark green and glossy measuring 30cm in length and 13cm width wise. New leaves are formed periodically ranging from two to three times annually.
Business Plan and Techniques In Kenya, flowering lasts from late July to early November, depending on the weather conditions. At the Coast, flowering can begin as early as February and March. Pollinators are flies such as bees or nectivorous bats. Common challenges Shortage of grafted planting materials of new and improved higher yielding varieties Use of inferior seedlings by farmers Pests and diseases Marketing challenges Mango grown in Kenya Kenya mangoes are among the best in the world, making Kenya a leading source of quality juicy and healthy mangoes to the rest of the world markets.
Kenyan mangoes are known for many health benefits among them is the fibers from the fruit which assist in digestion. They also contain calories, fats, potassium, and vitamins that help with various metabolic functions of the body. Mango tree farming in Kenya – Potential Profits Mango season starts from October to March considering the several varieties. A mango tree can yield 200 fruits per season. Therefore, a small-scale farmer with 50 trees is able to harvest approximately 10,000 pieces of mangoes in a given season.
If the farmer opts to sell his fruits to brokers at a farm gate price of Ksh 3 that translates to Ksh 30,000 per season. Other costs factored in like fruit fly trap will still earn 6.1% of total revenue. Mango farming can be successful if one follows a guide which includes; Planting, irrigation, intercropping, harvesting and yield, post-harvest management, and packaging. Several banks in Kenya offer mango financing schemes to interested farmers, so the future looks bright for the industry.
First published here