FAGE urges more investments into mango sector

The Federation of Association of Ghanaian Exporters (FAGE) has called for increased investments into the mango production value chain, especially in the area of processing and value addition, to help cushion the livelihoods of producers of the crop and to rake in foreign exchange into the economy.

Chief Executive Officer of the association, Anthony Sikpa, in an interview with the B&FT at this year’s annual Mango Week celebrations in Accra, said the fruit tree crop has huge potential to transform the agriculture sector if given the needed attention and support.

“The mango industry needs investments in the area of value addition; for processing mango into juice, dry products and concentrates, with that we can extend the shelf life and export them at high value.

If we consider the export potential for mango, it places very high on the list of the country’s non-traditional exports. It is the number one product in demand from Ghana worldwide currently, which means huge foreign exchange earnings,” Mr. Sikpa said.

He added: “If we are able to package the mango industry well, it will encourage young farmers to take up production. We have to help people take on farming because if we can transform this country, it must start with agriculture.”

According to Mr. Sikpa, there is huge potential for mango both in terms of local consumption and export—and even employment opportunities—but the seasonal nature of the crop without adequate processing and value addition facilities remains a major challenge to mango farmers.

The mango industry value chain is comprised of various activities and job opportunities for seedling producers, lands preparation services providers, farmers, aggregators, exporters/traders, processors, transporters and the end- consumers.

To him, government must come up with a strategic plan or support that will encourage investments into the sector and also better the lots of persons who are already into mango production.

“We need support from government; apart from enabling environment, we need support in research and development. It is not enough to tell investors or mango producers that you are creating an enabling environment for them. We need clear indicators.

For instance, under the One District One Factory programme, government can encourage entrepreneurs with incentives to set up processing facilities in the northern and middle belts of the country for farmers and investors to get clear results than what they are making now,” Mr. Sikpa noted.

Barely 10 years into the exportation of mangoes, it now commands 18percent of the European market so far, and Mr. Sikpa is of the opinion that with better support in the form of resources, processing facilities and experiments with new varieties, the country could export more to rake in foreign earnings.

Mr. Sikpa noted: “Market is not a problem to us because the opportunities are there; we only need to work more to realise them. Our soils also make our products attractive on the market, especially with taste.

So as for the potential, the sky is the limit as far as we can take good care of the trees, we can get fantastic fruits.”

The annual Ghana Mango Week brings together mango farmers, producers, exporters, processors, and government representatives, donors and service providers to unlock Ghana’s mango potential and contribute to the country’s effort to enhance exports and accelerate economic growth.

Mr. Sikpa said of the forum: “This forum is to highlight the potential that we have in the mango value chain for both employment, development and transforming the country’s agricultural sector.

“We are trying to showcase what the private sector has been doing so far and discuss ideas as to how to move the gains a step further.”

Thebftonline.com

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