In the wake of a recent visit by an Oman businessman, mango growers in Tanzania are to experience more sales and reduce post harvest fruit losses after the entrepreneur pledged to buy 40 tonnes of the fruit each week (equivalent to 2,000 annually).
Novat Ludovick, Secretary of the Association of Mango Growers (AMAGRO) in Tanzania told The Guardian on Friday that the businessman has agreed to purchase mango fruits after a tour of various farms in Dar es Salaam and the Coast regions.
“… and he was very impressed with the quality of mangoes that we have...,” the secretary proudly reported.
Nonetheless, there has not been any drastic change in the quality of Tanzanian fruits which raises the question of efficient marketing, as the Dubai investor put it.
“…I didn’t know that you have such very good mangoes before I come here…,” revealed Almahrouqi Zahor, managing director of Space-Tech Company Limited in a heavy Arabic accent.
Yet in that one sentence he raised a great challenge to the farmers and traders of the fruit and any other produce to seek out markets and promote their crops. India is number one, commandeering exceptional marketing strategies and whose mangoes are a favourite in Dubai particularly in summers.
In fact so much is the demand for Indian mangoes that, "…some people wait the whole year for the mango season, which is May to mid July…" said Pritesh Anand, a distributor of Bombay Exports mango brands. That’s not all, special promotions like Mango Mania and Dubai Mango Festival have been launched to woo shoppers at select retailers.
Shopkeepers said that the Alphonso variety – small, sweet and succulent mangos from India's western region – remains in top demand. “Why Alphonso? Well, you just have to taste one to find out…,” Anand invites and further explains.
“Mango mania has hit Dubai with seasonal varieties from India and Pakistan dominating the market in the summer…,” the trader revealed this market sensitive fact which means, given Tanzania’s highest production period in April, it is in perfect sync with the demand in Dubai come June and July.
In Dubai mangoes are referred to as the ‘King of Fruit’ and demand for the fruit grown exponentially over the last year thanks to greater job security and opportunities in Dubai.
Mango lovers can be seen nit-picking the juiciest wares in supermarket chains and fruit markets citywide, with average prices hovering at about Dh20-Dh25 for a carton of 12 mangos, or about Dh8 per kg.
However, all is not lost for as this stand, Dubai has not tasted Tanzanian juicy Dodo and Viringe, from Muheza in Tanga and Ifakara in Morogoro.
If the traders response to Tanzanian mangoes is a reflection of how the rest of the middle east will receive the produce then the future of mangoes exports is bright but it is not just about the taste, as the trader explained.
“….the mango fruits you have are so nice because you use organic farm methodology that many foreign countries prefer…,” explained the trader who is scheduled to begin importing mangoes to Dubai this season.
During the implementation we will collect mangoes from different AMAGRO’s members who are still appealing to the government for capital support in form of cold storage facilities and collection centres if their produce is to maintain quality and prolonged shelf life.
Presently, AMAGRO has more than 16O members spread over more than 10 regions countrywide including Coast Region, Dodoma, Mwanza, Morogoro, Tabora, Ruvuma, Lindi and Dar es Salaam.
Nonetheless, Tanzania is an insignificant player at the worldwide level, however, when placed in the African context, it comes out among the top six producers. Nigeria is the highest producer of mangos, followed by Egypt, Madagascar, DRC and Sudan.
Tanzania’s production figures reflect over 99 percent local varieties which are consumed in the country with very limited export potential.
Mango is produced across a large latitude range in Tanzania, under widely varied environments soils and management conditions. This widespread production brings with it a range of special problems or challenges. Mango orchards are normally small, not exceeding two to five ha of land.
Mango is one of the rather traditional fruit crop grown mainly in coastal zone (Dar es Salaam, Coast, Tanga) and Morogoro and Tabora regions. In North Eastern Tanzania, mango is mainly grown in the Tanga and Kilimanjaro regions.
While in 1990/91 Tanzania mainland produced only 61,680 metric tonnes, by 2004/05 production had increased to 254,550 tonnes (equivalent of 300 percent). Production for export was insignificant and was essentially to the Middle East markets.
In 2003, the Ministry of Agriculture reported that Tanzania exported only 49 tonnes, which was less than 0.05 percent of that years total production.
Common upcoming mango export varieties grown in Tanzania include apple, palma, boribo, dodo, haden, keitt, kent, van dyke, tommy, atkins, ngowe, hadijar and various other local landraces.
Apple and ngowe have high demand by the export market sub-sector.
AMAGRO is to eventually organize joint export marketing for its members.