The Trade Hub kicked off its inaugural Mango Symposium from April 6-7, 2017 in Korhogo, Côte d’Ivoire, part of the country’s main mango producing region. The symposium drew more than 200 private and public actors from the national and international mango sector around the theme of “export growth and competitiveness of fresh and processed mangoes in Côte d’Ivoire.” Over the two-day event, participants shared their experiences and knowledge of the global mango market, with the objective of opening up new business opportunities for fresh and processed mango from Côte d’Ivoire.
In addition to representatives from symposium co-organizers, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Cote d’Ivoire (CCI-CI) and the Interprofessional Fund for Research and Agricultural Council (FIRCA), high-level attendees also included the Ivorian Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Mamadou Sangafowa Coulibaly and H.E. Andrew Haviland, Charge d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Cote d’Ivoire.
Côte d’Ivoire’s mango industry is ripe for picking. In 2016, Côte d’Ivoire produced 150,000 tons of mangoes—of which 36,000 tons are exportable—and the government invested, US $3,440,580 between 2015 and 2017 to control fruit flies that damage mangoes and increase the number of exportable fruits. However, misconceptions about international markets, inadequate hygiene and packaging standards, and a lack of access to international certifications hinder the mango industry from realizing its full economic potential. As the mango industry represents the third largest fruit export market in Côte d’Ivoire and is a revenue source for over 5,000 stakeholders, overcoming these barriers would help stimulate the Ivorian economy, and, by extension, the regional economy, specifically through exports to the U.S.
“Among the results expected from this meeting, we are pooling our efforts to combat the endemic diseases that affect the productivity and quality of our mangoes, the diversification of our commercial partners and the scale up of our mango processing capacity,” said Mr. Coulibaly.
“Mango producers can substantially increase their revenue and meet the demand of the international market. However, they must be compliant with international standards, using the best techniques and practices in the management of their orchards,” said Mr. Haviland.
With the U.S. market value for processed mangoes—including both dried mango and derived products—around $300 million, both Ivorian and West African actors alike are looking to address these barriers to reach full market potential and eagerly joined in the conversation at last week’s Mango Symposium. From the panel presentations, participants learned about each step in the mango value chain, from production to exportation, including research and transportation. One panel focused on the U.S. market and buyers’ expectations, and guided regional actors through international requirements and standards in terms of quality, quantity and certification. At another panel, Kara Diallo, the Trade Hub’s specialist on the U.S. African Growth and Opportunity
Act (AGOA) presented the AGOA advantage, and how West African mango producers can utilize and benefit from AGOA when exporting to the U.S. market.
“The U.S. is an important outlet for West African mangoes, and the Trade Hub is there to create the link international buyers with local producers, processors and exporters,” ” said Patrick Hanemann, one of the Trade Hub’s mango experts. “This is the purpose of the symposium.”
The subsequent business-to-business (B2B) session illustrated the market reality for fresh and processed mangoes, including the supply and demand, as well as equipment needs. During the nearly four-hour session, buyers and sellers eagerly met with each other to discuss existing or possible collaboration and explore financial opportunities.
On the second day, international participants took field trips to nearby mango orchards, pack houses and drying sites at Ranch du Koba, Nembel Invest, Sodipex, Ivoire Agreage and COOP Gninnangnon.
At the close of the symposium, participants were enthusiastic about the results, especially the opportunity to build valuable business contacts at each stage of the symposium, including the site visits. “I was able to learn a lot about Côte d’Ivoire drying capacity,” said Mrs. Kadiatou Diarra from Imagri, a mango drying and export company based in Mali. “I plan to come back to further develop the business discussions I started during the B2B.”
Over the next month, members of the Trade Hub will follow-up with participating companies to monitor the progress on deals made at the Symposium.