To encourage mango consumption in Ghana, a news phrase was coined few years ago; ‘A mango a day keeps the doctor away’. This phrase which was derived from an old adage; ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away” was to impress on Ghanaians to consume mangoes for better health.
Importantly, the more mangoes are consumed, the more trees would be planted and as a nation, the more employment and income would be created for the citizenry.
Available statistics indicate that mango, the centuries’ age old fruit, has enormous potential that could transform Ghana’s economy much better than cocoa and other traditional export products.
Agronomists say that, Ghana has an immeasurable comparative advantage for the cultivation of mango fruits.
The country’s Coastal Savannah, Northern Ashanti, transitional zones of Ashanti and Brong Ahafo regions, Northern Volta Region and the whole of the three Northern regions are suitable for mango production that meet international quality specification.
According to them, these areas with their abundant moisture and hot temperatures are suitable for large-scale production of the fruit.
As a tree crop that thrives best in areas of moderate rainfall and high light intensity, the savannah areas are the best for mango, they said, adding that, Ghana with its comparative advantage in terms of rainfall, soil and proximity could become a very important producer within a few years if the nation committed resources to the industry.
However, it appears that the country is not paying attention to the huge potential for economic growth the industry present.
Farmers in this area are calling on the government for help to deal with the Black Bacteria Disease (BBS) that has plagued the sector to save it from collapsing.
Mr Godfred Alimo, Secretary, Blue Skies Mango Collectives, a Fair Trade group, said there was the need for a holistic approach in dealing with the disease just as “the state treated the Black Spot disease” that plagued the cocoa sector some years ago.
“This needs a national approach through mass spraying or an introduction of bactericides that can take care of the disease.
“Without that, the mango industry will totally collapse,” Mr Alimo said in an interview in Accra.
Mr Alimo said just after members of the network had worked so hard to defeat the fruit flies that used to devastate mango production years ago, the farmers were now battling with the BBS in all mango producing communities nationwide.
He said the BBS, an airborne disease, had within the past four years, continued to spread from farm to farm and had affected yields of farmers.
Similarly, many of the members of the network, especially those into citrus production, are said to be facing challenges with fruits diseases which seemed to kill the interest of farmers who engage in fruits production.
It is unfortunate that in spite of its huge potential, the sector have been left to struggle to survive.
The Ghanaian Time as well as many Ghanaians know the value of the industry which when harnessed can contribute meaningfully to economic growth and development.
We therefore implore the government through the Ministry of Agriculture to assist the farmers to eradicate the disease.
If the mango and citrus industry thrive Ghana would be the biggest beneficiary.