Samuel and Esther are two of over 200 members of the Kintampo Mango Farmers Association. Together the members of the association cultivate over 4000 acres of mango in Kintampo, in the Bono East Region of Ghana. Mango is a popular fruit cultivated widely for its economic and nutritional values. Their livelihood is however under threat from the Bacteria Black Spot disease, commonly referred to as BBS. BBS attacks mangoes and other trees weakening their branches and causing cankers on fruits resulting in premature fruit drop. The disease is named after the black spot marks, which develop first on the leaves and then spread to the fruits. BBS can destroy an entire mango plantation.
“I have never seen such a devastating disease strike like this before. Many of us nearly abandoned our farms because we were helpless at the beginning. Some even chopped off their mango trees and planted cashew,” said Samuel Effah Nimo, the Secretary of the Association. In 2018, Samuel harvested only 0.13 tons from his two-acre farm of 200 trees. He should have harvested between 3 to 7 tons for each acre.
In the face of such a crippling challenge, the BUSAC Fund sponsored a training program for the farmers that brought a ray of hope to their perennial problem. The Fund, with financial support from DANIDA and USAID, contracted an expert in disease control, to train the farmers on ways to stop BBS from destroying their farms and inevitably their livelihoods. The Farmers were taken through Business Management and Entrepreneurship Practical Training for Sustainable Agriculture. The plight of these farmers has since then changed. They have succeeded in stamping out BBS from their farms.
Members of the Association learned to manage the disease by practising good farm hygiene, proper pruning of affected branches and the use of copper-based fungicides. Through the education they received from the disease control expert contracted by the BUSAC Fund, they became vigilant and routinely checked for trees affected by BBS and marked them for pruning. The training exposed Esther Adumako Kodom, the Vice President of the association, to good record keeping which has helped her sustain her business.
BUSAC Fund previously facilitated a working visit for the group to South Africa (SA). Visiting the mango value chain in SA boosted their confidence and exposed them to the business side of farming. The farmers realized that mango farming is lucrative because it has a ready market. The visit to South Africa showed them that farmers in that country cropped according to the market demand. They had technical support from the Food and Agriculture Ministry and their activities were well coordinated. The experience in SA motivated the group of farmers to strengthen their union on their return and enabled them to start a value chain.
In 2019, Samuel harvested 25.5 tons of mango from his seven-acre farm earning a total of GHC114, 750.00. “I have set aside money for farming-related activities in the upcoming season. Some money will also go into my building project, and take care of my two children in the University for Development Studies,” he said. For the first time in her business, Esther raised an income of GHC 80,000 from her seven-acre farm.
Esther, like many of the farmers, has made adequate preparations for the next season. She has set aside money for pruning and farm care, agro-chemicals and spraying. “Those days I used to spend the money right after harvesting. By the beginning of the season I would have run out of money and would have had to borrow money to buy agro-inputs,” she added. “Those days are long gone. We appreciate BUSAC, DANIDA and USAID for the help.”
BUSAC Fund’s diverse support to the growth of the sector is also contributing to Ghana’s Climate Change Mitigation under the Nationally Determined Contribution as well as the Sustainable Development Goal on Environmental sustainability. It is not surprising that environmentalists are advising countries to adapt mango cultivation to mitigate climate changes.