The king of fruit ripe for business

“We are looking at what are being manufactured using mangoes. We are also looking at its economic and other potentials,” Gia Gaspard-Taylor, president of the Trinidad and Tobago Network of Rural Women’s Producers told Business Day at the Mango Festival held at the University of the West Indies Field Station at Mount Hope two Sundays ago.

This year’s Mango Festival was the third hosted by the network in conjunction with the Faculty of Science and Agriculture of the University of the West Indies.

The first festival was launched in 2009 when the network accepted a challenge from UWI.

“ With about two to three weeks to prepare, we though we could never do it, but we did. The following year, the Faculty of Science and Agriculture indicated that they wanted to partner with us to host the 2010 Mango Festival. It was a bigger success,” Gaspard-Taylor said.

Mangoes were featured as an ingredient in many sweet and savoury dishes. Its many by-products on display included the well-known bottled jams and jellies to the unknown bottled lotions and lesser known soaps and candles.

“Our members are producing a variety of products — creams, foot scrubs, a variety of soaps, lotions,”Gaspard-Taylor said,

During the mango seasons in the Caribbean, the fresh fruit is so plentiful that most of it goes to waste. Only a small portion of the season’s crop is sold on the open market.

To this end, she said the local network was now interacting with other Caribbean counterparts, including the Grenada’s Rural Network of Women’s Producers, to use the mango as a means of generating employment and source of income.

Research Officer of the Grenada network Veronica Henwood was exhibiting mango products, and spice products as a side show for the second year at the festival.

Henwood was the only producer showcasing mango cheese, dried mango rolls, mango bars and mango leather.

“The dried rolls, bars and leather have no additives but they retain their sweetness,” she said. “They have a shelf life of two years without being refrigerated.”

The mango leather is made from dried pulp. How leathery is the product depends on how long the pulp is dried. The mango leathers are used to make the mango bars.

“As you cut and start eating it, the bars would melt in your mouth nicely,” Henwood said.

The potential for mangoes, Henwood said was great in TT and the rest of the Caribbean. However, she lamented, “more advertising is needed to showcase the varieties of mangoes, their nutritional value and economic potential at the festival.”

Gaspard-Taylor said the network was encouraging its members to produce items like jams and jellies because the network believe they could capture the hotel and guest house industries in TT and in the Caribbean.

At the Soap Sisterz booth, Karyn, one of three sisters (not related) explained that while tutoring in a community development programme in D’Abadie, some of her trainees came up with the idea to start a little business using mango as a product.

They did not go the traditional route of making condiments. Instead their business, established under the trade name Soap Sisterz, manufactures a variety of cosmetic products using mango as its base.

They include mango Glycerine Soap, Oatfield Mango Soap, Mango Mango Soap, Mango Butter Cream, Mango Lotion and Mango Sugar Scrub.

Trinidad and Tobago is home to a variety of some 247 mango species, according to Ministry of Food Production. The majority of the species were imported and grafted by the British for experimental purposes.

The more popular varieties include the Starch, Rose, Doux Doux, Ice Cream, Zabrico, Calabash, Long, Ten Pound, Graham Haden, Buxton Spice, Grape, and Peach or Peter. While many do not know of the Tommy Atkins mango, it was without doubt the largest mango on exhibit at the Mango Festival. It was exhibited by UWI Science and Agriculture Faculty.

Mangoes are not indigenous to the Caribbean. They were first brought from eastern India to Brazil and the West Indies by Portuguese traders.

Gaspard-Taylor said while the economic potential of the mangoes are being explored, the nutritional value are not well-known as other fruits. Because of its nutritional value it is called the “King of Fruits.”

The UWI Faculty of Science and Agriculture listed its many health benefits. Mangoes are naturally high in fibre; rich in antioxidants; high in many of the essential vitamins (B1,B2, B3, B5, B6, and B 9), C, E, K; high water content; rich source of carbohydrates; and has a good profile of essential minerals including potassium, magnesium, calcium, zinc and iron.

That means mangoes are good for regular bowel movements; regulate blood glucose levels (particularly helpful for diabetics); provide protection from the development of some cancers; and maintain healthy skin, teeth, skeletal and soft tissue, mucus membranes.

They are good for vision, the nervous system, digestion, energy, skin, hair and nails; protect against heart diseases; slow the progression of heart diseases; help in blood clot formation, and bone health; remove toxins and prevent dehydration; and help to maintain normal blood pressure.


"The king of fruit ripe for business"

More in this section