An agreement to test and develop the establishment of a commercial mango farming system and strengthen the capacity of smallholder farms in The Gambia was signed on Tuesday 26 February 2013 between Gambia Horticultural Enterprise, GHE, and The Gambia Growth and Competitiveness Project, GCP.
GHE is one of two private investor farms selected to work with mango growers of The Gambia under the GCP mango out-grower programme.
The aim is to enable the production of a consistent volume and quantity of new and existing mango varieties for the fresh fruits export market. It also seeks to link growers to the international market supply chain, particularly for the export of premium grade mangoes.
Soon after signing the agreement Momodou Ceesay, the Managing Director of GHE, expressed delight in being one of the investors selected for the small-scale establishment of mango orchards and the linkage between the small out-growers and mango farms.
"We have some experience in mango production and export, and we think this project will go a long way in helping us improve our mango production and processing, and help link the out-growers to the international market for mangoes," he stated.
Mr Ceesay disclosed that they plan a two-pronged approach to help the out-growers of mangoes in The Gambia. One is to buy the fresh mangoes and export them to Europe. The other is to buy mango from out-growers and process it into juices, jam, marmalade or chutney.
Gambia Horticultural Enterprise is an agri-business company engaged in agro processing and the production of soft drinks, juices, cashew nuts as well as other agricultural consumer items.
It is the leading distributor of garden seeds, fertilizer, pesticides and garden tools in the country. GHE also grows fresh fruits and vegetables for both local and export markets and carries out pest control services.
The coordinator of the GCP Tamsirr Manga noted that the aim of this GCP component is to increase the quantity and quality of mangoes grown in The Gambia for the export market.
"GHE is one of the leading companies in The Gambia that has been operating for the past twenty years in the horticulture sector, and they have a wealth of experience. I believe that with this signing ceremony and the ultimate implementation of the programme, we'll see a lot of difference in the variety and quality of export mango from The Gambia", he said.
Manga added that his office expects to establish a processing plant in collaboration with GHE.
"We are hoping that come next year we will see a lot of difference and impact in the area of mango export and production," he stated.
This is the second signing of such agreement under window one of the matching grant, which seeks to establish an out-grower scheme for mango production, and it marks a milestone in a journey that started in August 2011 with an international invitation for the expression of interest from qualifying firms to partner with the GCP.
The manager of the Matching Grant Facility, Modou Njie, who witnessed the signing said his agency acted as the mediator between the two parties that have signed the agreement.
"We give technical advice and make sure that both parties adhere to the terms of the contract signed," he explained.