Accra, March 13, GNA - Government on Monday said it would do everything possible to exploit the growing potential of mango cultivation and make it a major export fruit in the horticulture industry.
Mr Clement Eledi, Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, who said this on the first day of the National Mango Week Celebration, noted that Ghana's comparative advantage in the production of the fruit was far greater because of soil fertility. He added that Ghana could produce higher quality mango to meet the growing international demands. He said the heavy dependence on cocoa and other traditional export items must be broken since equal or greater potentials and opportunities existed especially in the horticulture industry. Mr Eledi said the Government was currently supporting the mango out-growers with planting materials and had put in place a comprehensive training programme for the beneficiary farmers in mango growing areas. He said for the past 15 years Ghana had exported mango but her contribution to the total global figure was insignificant due to inadequate logistics and unfavourable export opportunities. "Our volume of production is a meagre fraction compared to neighbouring C=F4te d'Ivoire." He said there was the need to harness synergies in strategic private partnership that would ensure institutional support, capacity building, promotion of research and good land tenure system for the industry to grow.
Besides, Mr Eledi said the country should expand its export opportunities by exploring new sub-regional markets for mango. Mr Kwadwo Afram-Aseidu, Deputy Trade and Industry Minister, who opened the weeklong activities, said currently mango was at the bottom of the horticulture export league in terms of export revenues. He said in 2005 mango export stood at 261 metric tons, a figure that was less than one per cent of the total demand by Europe. "That mango is now being presented as a new money making product cannot be gainsaid. It is a product which can be produced almost throughout the length and breath of Ghana." He said mango had a lot of nutritional and health attributes, which could not be overemphasized. "In this regard I challenge our industrialists and researchers to come out with various mango-based products especially for the domestic market."
Mr Augustine Adongo, Chief Executive of the Federation of Association of Ghanaian Exporters (FAGE), said the broad objective was to make mango the next big horticultural export product. He said within five years the nation expected to gain 10 per cent of the European Union market. "Our targets may seem over ambitious given the fact that Ghana currently ships less than 250 tonnes of mangos to the EU valued at less than 200,000 dollars..." Topics to be discussed during the week include, "Supply Chain Structure and Production System of Mango"; "Marketing and Processing"; "Research and Development and Industry Support and Logistics and Quality Standards". The week is being organized by the FAGE in collaboration with the National Horticultural Taskforce under the theme: "Mango: The Next Big Product for Ghana."