Apple mangoes. Photo courtesy.
Kenyan fresh fruits exporters are looking for apple mangoes, the preferred variety in the international markets ahead of the fruit’s peak season that ranges from October to March every year in a bid to up the country’s export from 26,000 metric tonnes experienced in the previous years.
“Apple is the variety of choice for export and fresh fruit domestic market because of its colour and aroma when ripe hence the need for this variety for our growing Middle East market,” said Agnes Koti, the marketing officer at Mofarm Fresh Fruits Exporters Ltd.
Kenyan mango industry has a key competitive advantage that makes its value proposition unique to the market.
It prides itself in having one of the longest mango seasons that starts from October to March (High season) and another shorter season that ranges from April to June covering mainly the Coastal region. This makes it possible for Kenya to supply its main market (The Middle East) when the big suppliers of India and Pakistan are off-season, according to the International Trade Centre (ITC).
In Africa, said Koti, Kenya competes with Egypt in the Middle East export market which is an important market for us because the consumer in this country is already aware of the high quality of the Kenyan mango and since Kenya do not export the fruit to the European export market due to trade-related issues.
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The most promising future market for fresh mangoes from Kenya remains the Middlea East countries of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman and the United Arabs Emirates.
The growing international demand has however not attracted big investors leading to the mushrooming of very many small scale farmers who cannot guarantee quality and quantity required by the market. In effect, the exporters have had to buy from these small players, consolidate and sort out the fruits least come up with something that is acceptable to the market.
“We have a team of agronomists who work with our contracted farmers to ensure that they meet the production standards. We also ensure that for the new entrants or those planning to increase the acreage under the fruit’s cultivation, we provide quality and high yielding seedlings at a fee,” said Koti.
Mofarm also trades in avocadoes, pineapples and pawpaw fruits.
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For Mangos From Kenya Ltd, intense continuous training that guides farmers to plant and maintain mangoes professionally in order to meet stringent quality standards at the destination markets has seen the company report 30 per cent jump in exports in recent years.
“At the moment we are directing 90 per cent of our earnings to our farmer care program which is a rigorous project intended to ensure that farmers in our network get it 100 per cent right on what kind of mangoes the export market needs. This is very important to us because we can only claim to be in business when we are giving the customers what they want”, says Louis Matheka, Sales Manager of Mangos From Kenya.
Currently, the company aims to get smallholder farmers producing good quality fruits, devoid of fruit flies which had previously wreaked havoc on the Kenyan mango crop. As a result, farmers too are benefiting from increased yields and a higher quality crop that leads to an increase in exports.
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For most of these companies, the eastern region of Kenya remains the fruit’s important production area especially for the export market given its soil and climate make the perfect combination for mango production.
Besides apple other improved mango varieties grown in Kenya include Kent, Tommy Atkins, Kent, Van Dyke, Sabine, Sensation, Pafin, Maya, Kenston, Gesine and Haden while local varieties are Ngowe, Boribo, Batawi, Sabre and Dodo.
Both local and exotic varieties are grown in the Eastern region of Kenya. Overall, the Counties with a higher percentage of improved mango varieties are Kiambu (Thika), Embu, Tharaka Nithi (Mbeere), Meru (Meru Central and Meru South), Makueni, Machakos and Kitui.
Mangos From Kenya can be reached on (+254) 20 -805 6102/ (+254) 735 194 086 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org while Mofarm Fresh Fruits Exporters Ltd on +254 722 263 email@example.com