Mangoes – Gold of The Gambia
From April to June mangoes, mangoes, mangoes, … everywhere, all over the country! They ripen earlier in the east of the country than in the west. An enormous abundance. An enormous abundance.
The beautifully shaped mango trees are mostly on private properties. They are often found in the courtyards of private “compounds” but also in the middle of village and market squares, where they are sought after as a generously shaded meeting place.
However, due to the seasonal, short-term glut of mangoes, up to 90% of the fruit rots. What a loss! My heart breaks every time I am there. I have had a good solution in mind for a long time, because essentially it is about establishing a consistent value chain, including logistics, further processing, distribution and smart marketing. But in The Gambia there is not even a fruit juice pressing …hardly imaginable for a native of Baden Württemberg who grew up surrounded by orchards and „Siaßmoscht” (regional dialect for freshly squeezed apple juice). At least there is a factory that uses electricity to dry mangoes.
My solution would be mobile juice presses that can be used regionally, with which we could serve several places at the same time during high season. Plus many, medium-sized, solar-powered mango dryers. This would be quite affordable for a family with a few mango trees. Most importantly, it could generate the initial cost of one mango dryer over two years from the income.
As for the mobile mango presses, these could be purchased and managed by local women’s cooperatives. I am yet to research how much would be needed for each district. My goal for this year is to be able to pre-finance at least two mango dryers and a proper juice press – as a pilot project, so to speak.
As far as the mobile mango press is concerned, I haven’t found the right model yet. With the mango dryer, on the other hand, I have long since found one.
I will be back on site in The Gambia from May 14th. Until now … still without a mango dryer 😉