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Mango, mango everywhere

Mango sellers at Barakallahu, Kaduna.
Mango sellers at Barakallahu, Kaduna.
  • Kaduna mangoes planted by Sardauna rotting over insecurity, lack of processing plants

Kaduna State is home to thousands of mango trees, some planted by the legendary Sir Ahmadu Bello himself, that produce huge quantities of the fruit every year. The quantities are sufficient to boost the economy and generate employment for thousands in the state but sadly, the fruits are being wasted because of lack of a processing plant and the security situation in the state.

Alhaji Abubakar Saleh is a dealer supplying Mango to the retailers at the Barakallahu Mango Market in Kaduna. He has been in the trade for 30 years and has been a witness to the rise and decline of the trade in the state.

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“I buy mango from various mango farms within and outside Kaduna State and I am engage in the transfer of mango from farms to other states in the country and even outside the country to places like Niger Republic, Libya and other West African countries,” he said.

Saleh said that a good number of the fruit are wasted due to negligence from government, investors and farmers because there are no concrete steps taken to improve or develop the trees, storage facilities and the fruits for commercial or business purposes.

“We have species of mango that don’t perish easily here in Kaduna. It is not found in every farm but many farmers are growing it. The variety lasts between 20 days to one month. Popularly known as ‘King’ or ‘Mai siminti’ which is now available in the farm and markets.

The fact that some species of the fruit perish easily has been blamed by Saleh for the neglect they suffer as the fruits of those trees are disregarded by farmers, causing the fruits to fall and rot at the foot of the trees.

One of the solutions to curb wastage of the fruit is to set up processing plants in the state. Saleh explains why that hasn’t happened.

“I know of many people who intended to setup mango factories but issues of bandits and kidnappers have forced them to abandon the idea,” he said.  “Many people among the owners of these mango farms have the intention of setting up mango factories but the insecurity has prevented them from realizing their dreams.”

He said for long farmers have been unable to access their farms as a result of the security situation and dealers like himself who have taken risks to visit some of these farms have felt unsafe.

“Not long ago, we went inside the bush to buy an entire mango farm but to our surprise, we saw a team of seven people (bandits) carrying AK-47s moving around the farm, which compelled us to abandon the transaction and the farmer lost the business and quickly left the area for our safety,” he said.

He said farmers and dealers in some cases have to hire security personnel to escort them during their transactions.

For Hajiya Halima Lawal Baza, a 67-year-old mango trader at Barakallahu, more than three quatres of her life have been spent in the mango trade. She remembered Barakallahu before the mango trees took over.

“We have spent over 50 years here in Barakallahu. Our people laid the foundation for many of the mango farms around Baraakallahu by planting mango trees all over the area,” she said. “Majority of these mango farms were established 50 years ago and since then our family and others around here have been into mango farming and trading.”

Hajiya Halima also acknowledged that the security situation is affecting the growth of the industry saying now they are have resorted only to hope.

“We hope to have more people who will start processing the commodity for the development of the business and society in general. We pray for the restoration of lasting peace in the state and the country,” she said.

She suggests that perhaps if government could make soft loans available to farmers, they might have the courage to venture into fruit processing.

Abigail Aminu, 37, has been in the trade for 11 years. She said the margin of profit is dependent on the season. During peak mango season for instance, where a basket of the fruit is sold for N5,000, double at other times, eating into their profit margin.

According to her, many traders selling the fruit along NDC area along Kaduna-Kano expressway, depend on the mango trade to put their children through school and stack food on the table but with the government chasing them from their trading posts along the streets, many have been forced out of business.

Kaltume Ahmadu, 72, has been selling mangoes at Barakallahu for many years. She agrees with Abigail on the best trading season, saying, “The business is more profitable during a season like this (the off season) because you find only the good species in the market that last for three to four weeks with no single one perishing. Another reason that makes it profitable is that there are fewer people selling the fruits. A consignment you get at N10,000  could sell at N13000 to N15000.”

Despite the huge wastage they incur due to non-existent storage facilities, she has been able to accomplish something tangible from her trade.

“I thank Almighty Allah for mango because I bought a plot of land in Funtua from the proceed of selling mango. I have supported my children and grandchildren with so many things.”

Now, due to her age, she is no longer able to visit the farms to procure the fruit herself, so she relies on dealers to supply her.

A street in Anguwar Kaji is ‘paved’ with mangoes.
A street in Anguwar Kaji is ‘paved’ with mangoes.

Kanta Rd. Mangoes planted by Sardauna now a largesse

The mango trees at Kanta Road were reportedly planted by Nigeria’s Premier of the Northern Region, Sir, Ahmadu Bello, Sardauna of Sokoto along with other government officials at the time.

Our correspondent visited these trees and was told by residents that the fruits of those trees are bounties for people who troop to them in mango season.

Muhammad Sani Funtua, a petty trader nearby, told Daily Trust that people often come with their bags to cart away the fruits.

“Nobody stops people from eating the fruits, including children who pluck them in large numbers. Both residents, people passing by, women, children including the ones coming with bags to lug the mango to the market and sell,” he said.

“A lot of the fruits is wasted because hundreds of thousands of fruit drops on the ground and litter the street,” he added.

Musa Ibrahim, a guard at Kanta Road said, “People said these mango trees were planted by Sir Ahmadu Bello and since then, no individual or government has shown any concern over them. Every mango season, children especially Almajirai, girls, women and young men keep visiting the street for mangoes.”

Despite the numbers trooping to cart away the fruits, he believes that about half of the fruits are left behind to rot, leaving residents of the area with an environmental crisis.

Investigation by our correspondent shows that mango is not part of the agricultural priority value chains selected by the state government for its agric enhancement projects during the launch of the World Bank assisted project on Policy Alignment and Collaboration in the Implementation of Agro-Processing, Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support Project (APPEALS) last April.

Mango trees at Kanta Road, planted by the Sardauna 50 years ago.
Mango trees at Kanta Road, planted by the Sardauna 50 years ago.

Former Kaduna state Deputy Governor, Arc Barnabas Bala Bantex, who doubled as the Chairman of the State Steering Committee of the project said, “It is not by accident that Kaduna State selected dairy, ginger and maize as it’s priority value chains for the project. Let me reiterate that the choice is deliberate. Maize is selected to promote food security, ginger is for its export potential and dairy is to improve livelihood. These will support our drive to create jobs, improve standard of living and attract investment into the economy of our state.”

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