In the town of Boko, about twenty minutes from Parakou, the largest mango-producing community in Benin, Mafia Gnaki, a 60-year-old mango farmer, cares for 16 traditional mango trees in the compound of his home and cultivates an additional 11 hectares of an improved grafted mango variety (Kent). Many of his neighbors do the same because the mango value chain is of prime importance in Benin. During the fruit’s harvest season, which lasts 3-4 months, mangoes become an important source of food and crucial micronutrients to thousands of smallholder farmers and their households in the north-central region of Benin. For at least the last several years, the mango value chain across West Africa has been crucial to diversifying the agro-export economy of the region and improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers.
The Government of Benin made substantial investments in the mango value chain, including a massive mango tree planting campaign to double production within the decade. However, phytosanitary problems (mainly, fruit fly infestation), and access to local, regional, and international markets impede their ability to see significant profits from the fruit, depriving smallholder framers from reaping the economic value of their mango trees.
To help address some of these constraints, the USAID-funded West Africa Trade & Investment Hub (Trade Hub) co-invested with Promo Fruits Benin, a local pineapple processing company, to establish a first-of-its-kind 100 MT/day mango puree processing facility in Parakou. With a decade of experience in pineapple production and processing, Promo Fruits has developed the facilities, expertise, and regional and international trade and export linkages to successfully expand into the mango sector, not only in Benin, but across the region. Given their influence in Benin’s agricultural sector, Promo Fruits is also uniquely positioned to invite more interest and investment in the mango value chain in Benin in the long term.
The $2 million co-investment grant Trade Hub is injecting into the partnership will catalyze further private investment of at least $8 million, enabling Promo Fruits to expand their existing juice processing facilities in Allada and N’Dali. The project’s key milestone, this facility will create a new pathway for a network of thousands of household and smallholder mango farmers to access an industrial processing facility. Farmers will no longer have to resign themselves to losses from the rotting of thousands of harvested fruits due to lack of market outlets.
At harvest, Promo Fruits, through their Home Mango Collection model, will collect mangoes from thousands of mango-producing households for an average of $150 per tree/annually. For farmers like Gnaki, the company is throwing an economic lifeline. Gnaki shares, “I am very happy about Promo Fruits’ processing plant in N’dali, this will give me and other farmers the opportunity to improve our household income.” Through their partnership with Trade Hub, Promo Fruits is accelerating the country’s ability to harness the potential of the mango value chain to unlock new investment in Benin and provide thousands of smallholder farmers a dependable source of income and improved quality of life.