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Mango Tree

11.05.2023 Featured REPORTER’S DIARY: Mature Mangoes Seek Attention in Osun LGA, but No One ‘Sees’ Them

Published 11th May, 2023

By Sodeeq Atanda

Over the weekend, I was in Osun State for an investigation into the mismanagement of public property by a politician in cahoot with some individuals. In the Ola-Oluwa Local Government Area of the state, being my place of assignment, I biked from one community to the other to speak with various sources.

From Ikire-Ile town to Bode-Osi, the headquarters of the local government area, the left and right sides of the road was dotted with ripe mangoes looking to be eaten.

I plucked the mangos effortlessly. With no fear or insecurity, I moved around to catch a view of the natural environment. Unlike the Lagos city that is constantly disturbed by vehicular smoke, energy emission and human heat, the serenity of the local community was chilling.

MANGOES ARE ABUNDANTLY WASTING AWAY

Residents of Ola-Oluwa Local Government Area are majorly farmers, and evidence of this is everywhere. While in Ikire Ile, I saw some persons under mango trees moving bunches of palm fruits. What caught my attention was the overwhelming sight of rotten mangoes on the ground and their counterparts hanging on the trees.

Gafar, a resident of the community, explained the different species of mangoes in local parlance to me, and why farmers prioritise one above the other. He said market demands inform farmers’ decision on what species are to be conveyed to the market for sale.

Gafar
Gafar

The young man said mangoes are named according to their taste. He mentioned three varieties: sheri onikarosin, sheri gidi and sheri olokun.

Sheri onikerosin has kerosene-like aftertaste; sheri gidi is fleshy, not fibrous; while sheri olokun has more fibres. The edible tissue in each of these fruits is the mesocarp.

He explained that “low consumption demand has forced farmers to cultivate the normal mango and give little attention to other mango types, which usually makes the fruit waste on the farm. Their market value is very low and does not match the labour farmers invest into planting them.

“Some farmers travel with their products to Ibadan or Lagos State and when they come back, they would regale us with their experience with law enforcement agents on the road extorting money from them and their drivers. In all, the climate is not fair.”

I found it hard to see the ‘normal mangoes’. Farmers said insufficient rainfall affected its availability this year. However, there was sheri onikerosin in every corner of the local government area.

LACK OF JUICE COMPANIES

A woman who chose to be called Iya Bidemi explained to me that large volumes of mangoes are harvested from the area each harvest season and much of it do not get to the market.

She said some are sold to individual wholesalers in Iwo, who would then sell to retailers. At the tail of the chain are direct consumers. I found that a basket of mangoes, depending on type and quality, goes for N800 to N1500 at Odo-Ori market, Iwo.

Some Mangoes

The situation could have been different if there were enough juice industries in the state ready to enter bulk purchasing of the mangoes from farmers and scale up the production.

“How many farmers are aware of their existence? Iya Bidemi asked when I mentioned a few juice companies in the area. “I think we need more enlightenment and education on how to better utilise our agricultural opportunities.”

Adegboyega Oyetola, the former governor of the state, signed a memorandum of understanding with the International Insti­tute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) to effectively harness the state’s advantage in agriculture.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Nigeria is the 9th highest producer of mangoes in the world, churning out over 850,000 metric tons annually. With this understanding, Nasir Sani- Gwarzo, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment, encouraged Osun farmers in 2021 to re-envision their production capacity to meet global demands.

To feed the nation, Nigeria needs to do more in unbundling the commercial prospects lying fallow in this agricultural subsector.

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Published 11th May, 2023

By Sodeeq Atanda

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