The word fruit is originates from the Latin word fructus which means enjoyment. The mango one of the fruits that is enjoyed throughout the world or universally acceptable. It is a source of income for countries producing it and a household food security. The main role of the mango is providing households with nutrition and offering economic development opportunities.
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The mango industry in Kenya has grown significantly over recent years, both in size and in the geographical location of commercial and homestead plantings. The growing of mangoes in Kenya does not only take place in the coastal region but also other parts of the country such as central, eastern region, among other regions. Almost every part of the country produces mangoes but the arid eastern region produces 61 per cent of all mangoes, Rift Valley at 30 per cent and Coast producing 28 per cent.
For instance if you are traveling along the Embu – Ishiara road you will be attracted by the breath taking scene of countless mango trees doting many acres of land. This area marks the hotspot of mango farming in Embu County where every first quarter of the year mango trees sag under the weight of both ripe and unripe fruits. Main types of mangoes grown here include Tommy, Kent, Vandeik and indigenous types which thrive well because of the favorable climatic condition of the area.
As a result of the expansion, the mango fruit is becoming a favorite fruit with the local population. More people are embracing the farming of the crop, despite this increasing popularity, just a few consumers and potential growers are familiar with the characteristics of the many cultivars of mangos grown and available in the country. These include Ngowe, Apple, Kent, Tommy Artkins, Van Dyke, Keitt,Haden, Boribo, Sensation, Sabine among other varieties
The mango tree is not indigenous to Kenya, for centuries it has been cultivated in the Coast Province. The crop was introduced into the country during the 14th Century by the traders who came to the Kenyan coast. The mango is one of the most important fruit crops in the tropical and subtropical lowlands. The mango is native to Bangladesh, India, Myanmar and Malaysia, although it can be found growing in more than sixty other countries throughout the world.
The mango does well in a warm tropical monsoon climate with a pronounced dry season that is followed by rains. Although, information from other countries indicates that crops which are cultivated for a long time over an extensive area show a high degree of diversity due to varied environmental influences.
The same case happed when the mango seedlings were first introduced in Kenya which was all polyembryonic. In this case they can be multiplied by seeding and generally produce true-to-type progeny. Up to today some of these are still productive, for instance along the Tana River. They have been given different names which are still used today. Kimji, Kitoovu, Punda, Klarabu, and Mayai are of poor quality. Cultivators of Better quality are like Ngowe, Apple, Batawi, Boribo, and Dodo.
The mango is claimed to be the most important fruit of the tropics because of its attractive appearance and the very pleasant taste of selected cultivars
Fruits from the scattered mango production areas within the country are mainly consumed locally. For the past 30—40 years, commercial mango production was developed based on locally adapted and imported cultivars. This has seen the area under mango cultivation in Kenya rise from 500 ha in 1970 to approximately 15,000 ha
Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) has brought in five new mango varieties ; Haden, Van Dyke, Tommy Atkins, Sensation and Kent from Florida in the United States for the farmers who were previously growing conventional mango varieties like Boribo, Ngoe and Apple, which yield at most 200 fruits per tree. The new varieties, can yield between 1,000 to1, 200 fruits per tree.
Uses and Food Value
• Mangoes can be used to make juice, pickles, chutney, fresh fruit, jam/jelly, canned and/or dried fruit and much more.
• Due to the many products that can be obtained from the mango, it makes it a potential source of foreign exchange for a developing country
• Source of employment for a considerable seasonal labour force
• The mango is known for combating nutritional disorders.
• Source of Vitamins