Jun 12, 2015, 11:16 AM
The Gambia Horticultural Enterprise (GHE) Limited one of the investors selected by the Growth and Competitiveness Project for a Window 1 Matching Grant Facility for the establishment of a mango out-growers and processing scheme, and the Mango out-growers across the West Coast Region, over the weekend convened a day-long meeting to review the 2014 season of mango out-growers.
The purpose of the meeting held at the GHE MP Farm at Kembujeh village was to review the 2014 mango season, and to plan for the 2015 season.
Speaking at the forum, Mamour Sey, horticulture manager Gambia Growth and Competitiveness Project, thanked the participants for their time and participation in mango growing which he described as part of national development.
He spoke at length on the importance attached to mango growing, noting that it contributes to national food self-sufficiency in any nation, increase household food security, as well as increase the income-generation of people.
He thanked the GHE and other partners like the GCCP and the World Bank for coming up with this initiative, and urged the beneficiaries to continue working hard and to do more in the mango-growing industry.
The project manager GHE Ms Josee Soppe also expressed similar sentiments, and thanked the GCCP for coming up with the initiative, and the World Bank donors of the project.
Modou Njie, matching grant manager GCCP, assured all that the matching grant facility would continue to support the implementation of the horticulture development programme to develop a commercial mango farming system in order to produce more of the fruit in the country for the export market.
He described the initiative as promoting revenue-earning, exportation, employment for young people, as well as getting the private sector involved in agricultural production.
Momodou A. Ceesay, managing director of GHE, said the company is one of two private investors for window1 of the Matching Grant Facility of the Gambia Growth and Competitiveness Project (GCP).
The agreement signed with GCP seeks to establish a mango out-grower scheme, that would create a reliable and sustainable mango supply base for exports and processing, he said.
He also stated that smallholders and commercial mango farmers would be integrated into the mango value chain to improve productivity, quality and supply to support export market demands for fresh mangoes, and supply export market demands for fresh mangoes and for value addition.
He added that GHE as the private investor would leverage soft investments under the Matching Grant Facility to support and enable out-growers grow better mangoes by providing know-how and expertise, training and extension support.
Also, GHE under the scheme would be responsible for marketing the mangoes and providing quality assurance, he added.
The selected primary out-growers with mango orchards of 2ha and above of the required variety and quality would be supported by the project to adopt the new technologies, and would act as collection points for mangoes produced by the secondary out-growers who would in turn rely on them for management guidance, he said.
He noted that with the increased production and income generated, the scheme is expected to have a positive impact that would further catalyse involvement of other growers, leading to increase export earnings for The Gambia.
GHE has started implementing the project and has been upgrading its nucleus estate and facilities as part of its entry qualification, he stated.
“This is the second year of the project and we are here to review the 2014 mango season which has just past and to plan for the 2015 season,” Mr Ceesay announced.
He said through this World Bank project, some important milestones have been realised namely, formation and development of Kombo District mango growers orchards, global GAP certification for the GHE farm at Kembujeh to enable them export fresh mangoes by sea, buying of some 100 tonnes of out-growers fresh mangoes to the tune of over D700,000 for export marketing and processing, thus contributing to income generation from their mango orchards, and trials of sea shipment of out-growers fresh mangoes to UK, France and The Netherlands.
According to Mr Ceesay, this was the first time GHE was embarking on export by sea of fresh mangoes in its 22 year history, displaying and sale of GHE Gambian mangoes at some supermarkets in Europe.
He said that GHE is working within the Kombo Districts mango growers cooperative societies, and this was to help them undertake good agricultural practices in their orchards in order to produce good quality mangoes.
However, he added, it was not all rosy as they encountered a lot of problems with the quality of the out-growers mangoes shipped by sea such as non-conformity with export quality requirements on internal defects, especially the contamination of various diseases including anthracnose and stem rot and major incidence of soft nose which was due to nutrient deficiency and lack of irrigation water.
The problems are due to poor cultural practices applied in the mango out-growers orchards as they mostly lack capital to invest and better manage their orchards, he noted.
Also a good number of the GHE personnel involved in the processing and quality control have no experience in the operations resulting to poor performance.
The GHE International Mango Expert would elaborate more on these problems and would propose a way forward, as well as a learning process for both of them.
Looking forward to the 2015 Mango season, GHE and out-growers together have the capacity to capitalize their potential in achieving the objectives in production and marketing of a consistent volume and quality of fresh mangoes for the export market.