My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Why US$20 Million Mango Processing Plant needed to Tap US$500 Million Market

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Why US$20 Million Mango Processing Plant needed to Tap US$500 Million Market

The revival of the National Fruit-Tree Crop Project by the Ministry of Agriculture as stated in my blog article entitledBreadfruit and Fruit Tree Revival coming under RADA's National Fruit-Tree Crop Project - Red Stripe and Agro-Investment Corporation an example of how Agriculture benefits both Farmer and GOJ” is apparently bearing fruit since January 2014.

Pun intended of course!

This as we're now set to export Mangoes to the United States of America come January 2015 as stated in the article “Jamaican Mangoes get nod for US$500-m American market”, published Sunday, September 28, 2014 BY TERRON DEWAR Business reporter, The Jamaica Observer and “Approval given for Mango exports to the U.S.”6:03 am, Tuesday February 4, 2014, The RJR Communications Group.

This isn't a new initiative, as around the same time as the revival of the National Fruit-Tree Crop Project earlier in January 2014, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Roger Clarke, had mentioned that the US of A had given Jamaica permission to export Mangoes to that country. This as per his statements reliably recorded by the Horses' Mouth in the article “Exporters to Pay More for Yam”, published February 3, 2014 by Garfield L. Angus, The Jamaica Information Service.

The approval to export Mangoes to the US of A was the result of constant lobbying since 2009 via a so-called “market access request” initiated under by the JLP (Jamaica Labour Party's) Minister of Agriculture Dr. Christopher Tufton and brought forward by Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Roger Clarke before his untimely passing.

To quote Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Roger Clarke: “We are looking to find an investor to put up that plant.  If we are able to export Mangoes into the US, there would be no competition. What we see there is not the same quality of Mangoes we have here”.

So now that we’ve got a date set for January 2015, how many Mangoes have we exported to the US of A or anywhere for that matter? And what does Jamaica have to do to be able to export Mangoes to America?

Jamaica to export Mangoes to America - Exports less than 0.1% of US Demand need expanding

Not sure if they found that investor yet, but a Processing Plant will be needed to meet the requirements of the US Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service in order to export Mangoes to the US of A.  A few quick facts as to why exporting Mangoes to the US of A is so lucrative:

1.      US$500 million market in the US of A for Local Farmers  
2.      US$1.2 million to US$1.6 million worth of Mangoes exported annually over the past decade
3.      US$1.9 billion Global Demand for Mangoes in 2013

This might be a problem, as the Mangoes are mainly to be sourced from 14 Mango orchards in Jamaica. These orchards, 10 in St Thomas and 2 in St James, ranging in size from 2 to 150 hectares of mostly Julie and East Indian Mangoes. Combined, this gives Jamaica to capacity to export some 261,000 kilogrammes of Mangoes to the US per annum, estimated to be 0.1% of current demand from the US of A. That demand is estimated to be valued at some US$360 million to about US$500 million, triple the level of US$180 million in 2003.


Oddly, America’s share of global demand for Mangoes fell from 30% ten (10) years ago to some 26%. That's because their new fruit of passion is the Banana, which they love so much that the import huge amounts of the fruit from farms in Latin America owned by American company Chiquita Banana. 


So before this deal where were we exporting Mangoes? Mainly Canada and the United Kingdom who received 670,000 kg of the fruit, netting Jamaica some US$1.5 million in foreign exchange.

That's a good sign and already this year, we're on track to export over 500,000 kg of Mangoes. Jamaica needs to expand capacity if we're to even increase past 0.1% of US demand, even if the Mango isn't their favorite fruit.

Mangoes Processing Plant - Radiation Therapy and Hot Water Baptism to Tap US Market

In a manner similar to the construction of the new Sorrel Drink Processing Plant in Bethel Town, Westmoreland  by the Bethel Town Agricultural Cooperative Society  as described in my blog article entitledHow to make Jamaican Sorrel Wine – JA$2500 for 5 1 Liter Bottles of Sorrel Wine goes well with Chocolate Christmas Cake”, Mango farmers may have to seek assistance from the JSIF (Jamaica Social Investment Fund) to expand their farms capacity and process the Mangoes.

The Mangoes have to conform to the standards of the US Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, which requires a Processing Plant costing some US$20 million. Realizing that this requires a partnership, the Ministry of Agriculture is seeking Private Sector partnership as noted by Sheila Harvey, Chief Plant Quarantine and Produce Inspector at the Ministry of Agriculture.

And trust me the requirements are very strict. Jamaica has been banned from exporting to the US of A for 30 years due to the presence of the West Indian Fruit Fly (Anastrepha obliqua) and the Caribbean Fruit Fly (Anastrepha suspensa).

To remove the larvae of these pest, which is often deeply embedded in the Mango’s skin, they have to be either treated to a hot water immersion bath or Irradiation using a Cobalt-60 source similar to that used in older X-Ray Machines. Also, the fruits have to come from the 14 or more designated farms as registered with the US Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

That's US$20 million worth of Mango Processing Plant and regulations to tap into a shrinking market of US$360 million for Mangoes in the US of A. But if a Radiation Therapy and Hot Water Baptism to Tap US Market is what's required with a little Private Sector help, then it's worth it.

Let’s hope the Ministry of Agriculture also looks into the sale of VAS (Value Added Services) such as Mango Wine, Beverages and Jams to the Americans, as have a feeling they’ll be wanting something to drink and spread on their bread as well!



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