BioTropic: Start of the mango season in West Africa
Fresh mangos from Burkina Faso ring in this year’s West African mango season. This will be followed by mangos from the Ivory Coast and Senegal.
The mango trees in Burkina Faso are cultivated by around 20 small scale farmers from the Ranch du Koba cooperative. Initiated by BioTropic, the cooperative has been exporting its Amelie mango variety since 2011. The projectable sales represent an annual additional income for the farmers.
Our Africa expert Kuemkwong Siemefo visited the area in February and discussed the forthcoming season. However, the harvest and organisation is arranged by Desiré, the mango representative of the growers’ cooperative Ivoire Organics in Korhogo, on the Ivory Coast. Each year, before the start of the harvest, he travels to Burkina Faso where he organises several teams who, in a cooperation with the small farming enterprises, harvest the mangos on the various plantations.
The plantations are a bit older and the trees very high. The men use a long pole with a hook to reach the fruits. An assistant guides the pole and cuts the fruits off the tree and another catches them with his hands. This ensures that the sensitive mango skin and the fruit flesh remains intact. However, the workers also need to take care themselves as a fresh mango can be quite unpleasant. A clear juice runs out of the stalk of a freshly plucked mango and if this gets into the eyes it can be quite painful. The harvest helpers, therefore, put the fruit on the ground with the stalk facing downwards after picking and wait until the juice has flowed out.
In the packing house the fruits are then washed and sorted. The women are responsible for the quality assessment. Once packed into boxes, the mangos are taken to the cold storage warehouse and, shortly afterwards, transported to Europe by ship.
There are hundreds of mango varieties worldwide. The most famous in Europe include Amelie and Kent. Amelie is round, a little acidic and has a tender, floral aroma whilst Kent is more oval, juicy and with a plum taste.
Text: Visnja Malesic
Photos: BioTropic GmbH
Version: March 2016