Nouvèl FOKAL

mercredi 1 juin 2011

Beautiful plants : the mango tree

For more then a month now, the markets have been taken over by mangos of all kinds, “fransik”, “kon”, “fil”, “miska”, “kanel”, “jeremi” and more that we enjoy while our mango trees in our yards drop their beautiful ripe fruit on our roofs with a «bong» night and day. Children have fun trowing sticks or stones to get the fruit from the mango trees. Nouvel FOKAL and Martissant park want to give you a little more information on this great fruit and its production in the country of Haïti.

The mango tree originated in India and was introduced to the Caribbean in the 18th century. Thanks to its double root system, the mango tree gets its water from surface roots during the rainy season and from its long taproots during the dry season of winter. The mango tree can live for more than one hundred years.

François Séverin who wrote “Plants and trees in Haïti”, has inventoried more than 158 different varieties of mango trees in the country. The mango is one of the most exported fruit in the world. The mango season in Haiti is one of the longest in the Caribbean basin.
In 2009, according to the Bank of Haïti, the revenues from the export of mangoes was more than ten million US dollars, one third of the country’s agricultural export. The fresh mango most exported, mostly to the US, is the francisque, produced only in Haïti. The national association of mango exporters (ANEM), its member enterprises such as Agropak or JMB S.A. and many NGOs such as ORE (The organisation for the rehabilitation of the environment) in Camp-Perrin, work to improve this sector. ORE has developed new varieties that are tastier and disease resistant. They also work in the packing of dried mangoes. Many agricultural cooperatives in Ennery, Gros-Morne, Petite-Rivière de l’Artibonite, Léogane et Cabaret have all had their mangos production certified «organic» so as to reach new foreign markets.

For export, many problems come to mind, one being the picking. ORE and AVSF (Agronomist and veterinary without borders) have improved the picking system by getting the fruit from the tree before it falls to the ground and thus avoid bruising and rotting. Then, transport is a problem, as the roads are so bad, the fruit can be damaged. But one of the major problems for export is the presence of mango fly larva in the fruit. To avoid this, the mangoes are examined as they arrive at the exporter. If they have larva they are thrown out. As for the good ones they are plunged in a bath of hot water (50 celcius) to kill unseen larva and prevent their development. They are then packed and sent for export. The mango export represents a major potential of development for the country.

However, most mangoes produced in Haïti are eaten locally. Mangoes contain good amounts of vitamins A and C, antioxidants which are recommended for daily consumption. Mango leaves also have antiseptic properties. This entices us to keep on eating mangoes while sitting under the shade given by this large tree along sunny roads, dreaming of agricultural development in Haiti.