A USAID team learned best practices in mango farming and harvesting during an October 19 visit to the Yilo-Krobo Mango Farmers’ Association (YKMFA), one of several West African mango producer organizations that have parlayed Trade Hub investments into more exportable mangoes and high-quality mangoes for processing.
USAID and the Trade Hub accompanied Cecilia Paredes, communications officer at USAID’s Africa Bureau in Washington to YKMFA in Ghana’s Eastern Region. The association’s secretary, Obed Amevor, explained its operations and the role it plays in negotiating prices and sales for its 159 members, whose plantations range in size from three acres to 200 acres. He then took the team to visit a 75-acre plantation that uses a solar-powered irrigation system.
YKMFA is the only Ghanaian producers’ association certified this year under the new version 5 of Global G.A.P Option 2, designated for producer groups, and 79 of its 159 members are also Global G.A.P.-certified. Certification of farms and packhouses is an international food safety standards requirement for exports, particularly to the European Union and Middle East.
John Sackey, a Global G.A.P. inspector with the association, said YKMFA plans to secure funding to develop similar irrigation systems throughout its network of mango farms. Having a proper irrigation system in place instead of depending on the rains allows for earlier harvests, prolonging the season by up to two months: “Those who have water will begin harvesting in November instead of January,” he said.
From late May through early August, the mango-producing countries in the region, including Ghana, all experience the “major” mango season. Between December and February, Ghana is the only country in West Africa to have a second, “minor” mango season, which the Trade Hub’s mango specialist, Pamela Okyere called “a unique window of opportunity.”
Paredes, who said this was her first visit to a mango farm, told the farmers, “The work that you guys do, I don’t know how you do it all—you get up early before the sun, you go to bed late… all so we can enjoy this wonderful fruit—I have a special appreciation for it.”
From October 2015 to September 2016, the Trade Hub provided assistance through technical support, grants and other interventions in four mango-producing countries in the region—Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Senegal – helping producers improve their planting, harvesting and post-harvest produce handling techniques. These interventions resulted in more than $8 million in sales, including almost $4.6 million from exports.