Meeting the stringent demands of exporting mangoes

BY HORACE HINES
Observer staff reporter

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

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MONTEGO BAY, St James, — It was extremely fulfilling for farmers and exporters after the inaugural exportation of 12,000 pounds of Jamaican mangoes to the United States of America from the Sangster International Airport in St James, on Thursday of last week.

The stakeholders derived additional joy in meeting the stringent requirements ahead of the maiden exportation to Uncle Sam's country.

Jacent Edwards, a 40-year mango farming veteran, explained that before the US market opened up, he supplied markets in the UK, Canada, Bermuda, Grand Cayman and locally, but requirements were not as rigid as that demanded by the US.

“There are a lot of stringent preparation you have to do and some of that we are not accustomed to it, but it is a learning curve. I don't see why we can't handle it,” the operator of the 20-acre farm in Heartease, Yallahs, St Thomas said.

He explained: “When you pick the mangoes first you have to pick them in crates, second thing the crate has to be covered, when transporting, it has to be covered; it cannot be left open at no time, in other words, once you reap it from the tree there is no access to fruit flies and other pests. So, that is one of the things we never had to deal with.”

The inaugural exportation of Jamaican mangoes to the US gave a sigh of relief to chief executive officer of Carita Jamaica Limited, an exporting company, Rita Hilton. In fact, with the stringent requirements, she conceded that at one stage she doubted that the first export would be a reality for this season.

“I was afraid we were going to lose the season because there were so many protocols and barriers to cross to get that final permission to go ahead from the Ministry of Agriculture,” Hilton said.

She further offered: “The protocols include how many boxes were to be in a lot, how it was to be packed, how it was to be transported to the packing house, how it had to be prepared for export. All those protocols were for us on the Jamaica side to complete.”

For Jordan Dawson of Dawson Trading Company, who doubles up as a farmer as well as an exporter, the opening of the American market is “excellent news for mango farmers across Jamaica once they can get up to standard and get approved”. He offered to assist farmers to meet the requirements necessary for the export of mangoes.

Dawson, who returned to Jamaica from Canada approximately nine years ago, argued that the addition of the US market allows exporters to take off mangoes from approved farmers to avoid the spoilage of the fruits when they are in abundance.

“We have an excess of supply at certain times during the mango season. Most of the time it is short yes, but during peak season several farmers might have difficulties in finding a market for their goods and this will surely help to get an additional market for their goods. I am an exporter and a farmer, I know the process to get the farmers approved and I can also buy the goods from them and export it,” Dawson outlined.

Exporter, Leighton Hylton, who has been in the business for seven years, welcomed the addition of the new American market.

He disclosed that he has the distribution rights for Florida, where half of the 12,000 pounds were destined.

Dawson argued that with some 1.6 million Jamaicans presently residing in the US, the demand for mangoes is great.

“The demand side is not the problem as we have 1.6 million people presently residing in the US. We don't even have 1.6 million mangoes to give each person and everybody wants two,” Dawson told the Business Observer.


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