How to create wealth from mango processing for export, local markets

Fresh mangoes

Head of Agro-Economy Desk, FEMI IBIROGBA, writes on how seasonal and highly perishable mangoes could be processed, preserved and used to create wealth for the processors and other value chain players.

THEY are here now in abundance. They come every year. But more of them get wasted than consumed or utilised. They are mangoes. The sweet mangoes.

Mangoes are tropical fruits usually available, like cashew, between February and June, depending of ecological zones, regions and varieties of the fruit.

They are rich in fiber, vitamins and other micronutrients. And in Nigeria, they are cheaper and mostly sold at give-away prices because industrialisation of the product has not been deepened and direct consumption can hardly mop up the supply during the harvest periods, forcing the farmers to sell cheaply.

The world production figures indicate that India is the largest producer with annual production of about 16.4 million tonnes, accounting for 42.2 per cent. The country is also ranked as the largest exporter of the fruit, either fresh or value-added.

China distantly follows India with a mango production figure of about 4.4 million metric tonnes per year, accounting for about 11.2 per cent of the world total production.

In Nigeria, ranked the world 10th largest producer, about 800,000 metric tonnes of the fruit are produced yearly, contributing about 3% to the world total production.

Of about eight varieties of mango available in Nigeria, the most widely acceptable is the sweet and aromatic Ogbomosho/Enugu type.

The skin colour of the variety is usually bright yellow with orange and red blush, and the flesh colour is yellowish, with an oblong shape.

The flavour is sweet with a hint of spice and the texture could be firm, soft and juicy as well as fibrous flesh. Green overtones diminish and the yellow becomes more golden as the mango ripens. This variety is good for chips and puree.

Reasons to consider dehydration of mangoes to elongate shelf life include opportunities to create wealth by individual processors; job creation along the value chain; deepening of mango utilisation and prevention of losses.

Reasons to invest in mango value addition
One of the main reasons to consider investments in mango value addition is to prevent post-harvest losses. Poor value chain development, low industrialisation and non-availability of storage devices, as well as inadequate electricity have contributed to high post-harvest losses of most fruits and vegetables in Nigeria.

Tomatoes, oranges, leafy vegetables and many other perishable crops are lost in Nigeria annually because of the above variables. These products become scarce and therefore outrageously expensive off seasons. Adding value by processing into chips is one of the few ways of making mangoes available in other forms round the year. It is also a way of preventing massive post-harvest losses in the country.

Also, cheaper supply of raw materials presents an opportunity to process mangoes at a very good profit margin. An agro-allied business consultant, Mr Anthonio John-Bede, said mango chips are exported to Europe, America and Australia, apart from the opportunity of supplying local juice companies.

The number of vegetarians is on the increase, creating an avenue for sale through supermarkets and specialised outlets. Value addition, he said, could make hard-working Nigerians to create wealth for themselves and the country through foreign exchange earnings.

More importantly, job creation along the value chain is a major consideration to explore processing mangoes.

Deepening of mango utilisation by processing into chips would stimulate demand for the fruit, forcing its price up and encouraging intensive cultivation of and investments in mango plantations until demand and supply are stable and the price becomes normal.

The situation would facilitate productivity which, in turn, would create job opportunities from cultivation, plantation maintenance, harvest, post-harvest management and marketing/sale.

Processing procedures
The Nigerian Stored Products Research Institute (NSPRI), which has done extensive research on processing of mango flesh into chips, recommends that the fruits to be processed into chips should mature and half ripe to maintain firmness while peeling and drying.

NSPRI, in a production manual made available to The Guardian, said dried mangoes could be eaten as snacks and could be re-hydrated to produce mango juice, jam or drinks.

NSPRI recommends in the manual that a processor should “select fruits about to ripe or half ripe; wash the fruits and peel; slice the pulp into small pieces and shape as desired.” The dried chips, it added, must be packaged in food grade polythene bags and sealed to prevent moisture re-absorption after packaging.

Additional income, INSPRI said, could be made from selling the peels as animal feeds and extracting oil from mango seeds.

For construction of processing centres, conditions stipulated by the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) must be followed, and selling the chips to the international markets would require processors to work with the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) for export orientation and facilitation.

Sourcing raw materials and market for mango chips
A processor has two ways of sourcing mangoes for processing. One is to off-take from major farm zones either directly from farmers or through the middlemen. The other way of sourcing the fruit is by having mango plantations.

Chief Executive Officer of Benue Mango Flakes, Mr Isaac Sar, said the company sources fresh mangoes from local farmers who produce locally and serve as out-growers.

“We buy fresh mangoes and process into chips and we sell the chips locally and they are consumed as snacks.

“It is a very good business and we are planning to penetrate the international market too. We are working on that. We are based in Gboko, Benue State,” he said.

Former National Coordinator of the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Programme (WAAPP) Nigeria, Professor Damian Chikwendu, disclosed to The Guardian that Nigeria could make huge foreign exchange earnings from processing and export of mango chips.

WAAPP Nigeria sponsored the design and fabrication of mango dryers before the project was suspended because of the refusal of the Federal Government to contribute its counterpart funds to the World Bank/Economic Community of West African States (WB/ECOWAS) programme.

Processing equipment
To produce mango chips of standard and exportable qualities, solar, or electromechanical dryers could be used.

Electromechanical dryers combine electricity to generate heat through in-built elements and gas, kerosene or diesel burners with fans to circulate the heat in the ovum.

This device requires a stable source of power supply either through the public power utility system or independent power plants (power generators).

The WAAPP Nigeria-sponsored electromechanical dryer has proved successful, and Prof. Chikwendu added that one of the fabricators is the Lagos-based Nobex Technologies.

Speaking with The Guardian, Managing Director of Nobex Technologies, Lagos, Mr Idowu Adeoya, said processors from West African countries had been purchasing the dryers, with a few processors in Nigeria.

However, the use of diesel-powered dryers increases the cost of production and reduces the profitability of the business.

On how the company processes the fruits, Benue Mango Flakes General Manager, Emmanuel Torsar, said, “We use dryers that are diesel-powered and they are combinations of diesel and electrical components.

“Drying depends on environmental humidity, but averagely, it takes 18 to 22 hours to dry.”

Alternatively, NSPRI presents an improved multi-purpose solar dryer, which has been successfully used in drying tomatoes, mangoes and other agricultural products.

Dr Olayemi Folorunsho, Head of the Engineering Research of the institute, explained that the solar dryer is made of transparent acrylic polythene materials which are able to generate solar heat capable of drying most of the agricultural perishable crops.

On the dryer, Folorunsho said the technology would help in drastically reducing food wastage in the country; would increase the profitability of farmers because they would have more products to sell and they could sell at their desired period; and that after the cost of assembling the dryer, the usage is cost-free because it neither uses diesel nor petrol or gas as power source, making the device the most economical means of preserving food so far.

Mango chips, peppers, tomatoes and onions are dried in about three to five days in a very hygienic condition.

Dr Adeola Olufemi Oyebanji, one of the researchers at the institute, said, “We have improved drying options. The latest one now is what we call the parabolic-shaped solar dryer. It is a large-scale device for productivity.”

He explained that NSPRI had developed other cost-effective and small-scale dryers to ensure products are dried to acceptable levels as part of integrated post-harvest management to prevent losses.

He added that the institute had used it to dry tomatoes, which it assessed as retaining all the nutritional components. Nutritional analysis of mango chips processed with the solar dryer, however, had not been carried out, the institute said.

“The dryer has just been developed and is undergoing uses for various crops,” the Oyebanji said.

Comparatively, the solar dryer is not only more economical but also more environment-friendly than other forms of dryers such as flash dryer, gas dryer or hybrid dryer.

The other dryers use electricity, diesel/kerosene or gas to power the ovum, thereby contributing to one form of environmental pollution or the other, while solar drying system is absolutely renewable and eco-friendly.

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