More than 500 farmers in Kilifi and Malindi are growing five new commercial mango breeds with yield potential of 10 times conventional varieties. The new drive is aimed at taking the returns from local mango farming to new highs. Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (Kari) has brought in five new mango varieties from Florida, in the US.
The varieties include Haden, Tommy Atkins, Van Dyke, Sensation and Kent. They yield between 1,000 to 1,200 fruits per tree. The move will increase yields for farmers who were previously growing conventional mango varieties like Ngoe, Boribo and Apple, which yield at most 200 fruits per tree.
“The coastal area was chosen for the roll-out of the new breeds because of its endemic poverty levels and the economic impact the project would have there,” said Kari assistant director of horticulture and industrial crops Lusike Wasilwa. Kari has also developed dwarf varieties for the coastal region — Peach and Sabre, to add to the other five varieties. The dwarf varieties have been developed by grafting superior varieties onto local varieties that do well in the coast to produce high yielding varieties.
Value addition Farmers are also being taught value addition to their crops through post harvest methods to preserve their fruits. The shelf life of a picked ripe mango is two weeks, but farmers can preserve peeled mangoes in sugar saline solution for up to three months. This “stops farmers from panic selling at throwaway prices,” said Wasilwa.
“In Kenya, industrial and small scale processors process four of the 10 mango products processed worldwide, confining processing to juices, pickles, Indian chutney and jams. Yet all the 10 products, which include mango paste, puree, pulp and powder, can be processed locally, said Wasilwa.
Next year, Kari aims to help farmers process mango powder for selling. Currently, farmers sell a kilo for Sh5 to Sh20 season. Yet if these are solar dried and packaged, a pack can sell for between Sh120 and Sh150 in supermarkets. Farmers at the Coast sell half a kilo of locally processed jam for Sh100.
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