Sweet mango investment in Jamaica

The Government’s ambitious plan to establish a mango agro park on approximately 900 acres in Spring Plain, Clarendon, has received a fillip with five investors this week committing a total of almost $100 million to the project.

Each of the five investors will come up with $19.5 million to lease 50 acres of the property as they enter an export industry which is conservatively valued at more than US$18 billion internationally.

Last year Jamaica exported just over 291,300 kilograms of mango, valued at less than US$700,000.

“That was a drop in the bucket compared to the big countries that produce mangoes for export. There are over 100 countries which export mangoes… and in this part of the world we have Ecuador, Peru, Mexico, Argentina, and Brazil competing,” said Dr Al Powell, chief executive officer of Agro-Investment Corporation (AIC), which is driving the establishment of the mango agro park.

Ministry of Agriculture research data indicate that India is the world’s largest producer of mangoes and accounts for nearly 40 per cent of world production. In 2016 India’s export of mangoes was valued at US$10.48 billion, a significant increase over 2015 when it was US$8.8 billion.

According to Powell, Jamaica will look to export mangoes to many countries, “Even though our primary markets are the UK (United Kingdom), Canada, and the US (United States)”.

At a recent breakfast meeting with the five investors — Donnovan Rae, Merrick Plummer, Fairfield Farms, Solid Equipment and Haulage Limited, and Courtney Murray — Powell promised that they will be given all the technical support they will need to successfully operate their mango farms.

“It is a programme that the Government of Jamaica is supporting, the Ministry of Agriculture is supporting and all the stakeholders in the sector… are supporting,” declared Powell.

The AIC head had previously told the Jamaica Observer that the island has the temperature, the technical capability, and just about everything to grow mangoes. He said the mango agro park will grow East Indian and St Julian (Julie) mangoes for export, with some investors putting in other cash crops on their leased areas.

“We are going to construct a modern hot water treatment plant so that the fruit flies which threaten the export of mangoes will be behind us,” declared Powell.

He said work is far advanced on a 60-acre section of the property which will be used as a demonstration area for the planting of mango trees.

According to Powell, it is expected that the five successful investors will start ploughing the land by January.

He said another 30 individuals and entities have expressed interest in investing in the mango agro park but that is being done slowly to ensure that sufficient planting materials such as seedlings are secured and available.

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