(JAMAICA OBSERVER) — Twelve thousand pounds of mangoes were exported on Thursday(June 13) to the United States.
The mangoes – ‘Julie’ and ‘East Indian’ – were the first set to be exported from Jamaica to the US in 20 years.
Export of the mangoes, which is being facilitated through the Mango Irradiation Programme, is expected to continue once or twice per week until the close of mango season in late July 2019.
Minister without Portfolio in the Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, JC Hutchinson, pointed out that the demand for Jamaican mangoes is high in the Diaspora.
He was addressing the official ceremony for the export of the mangoes, which was held at the Sangster International Airport Export Complex in Montego Bay, St James.
“This inaugural shipment of mangoes to the US tells us that the markets are there and we must grasp every opportunity to meet the demands of those markets,” the minister said.
“I cannot emphasise how critical marketing is to the growth of the sector. It is estimated that some 1.6 million Jamaicans reside in the United States, mainly in the areas of New York, New Jersey and Miami. In addition to that, there are another 1.2 million Jamaicans from the Caribbean Diaspora… so there is no shortage of consumers who are hungry for Jamaican mangoes,” he added.
The minister noted that Jamaica has, for some time, been exporting mangoes to Diaspora markets in the United Kingdom (UK) and Canada, and that in 2013, the country exported 654,954 kilograms of mangoes to Canada, and 691,206 kilograms in 2014.
Jamaica currently exports 419,919 kilograms of mangoes to Canada annually.
In 2014, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) gave clearance for Jamaica to export mangoes to the country. This, however, was subject to compliance with standards required by the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. As a result, the Government has had to work with the nation’s farmers to meet the necessary requirements.
The minister stated that one of the requirements was that mangoes exported meet US standards by ensuring that the produce underwent the process of irradiation.
The process, which involves the treating of fruits with ionizing radiation, sterilises fruit flies so they are unable to reproduce.
Export Complex Manager in the Plant Quarantine Department of the Ministry, Dalton Hastings, said the process does not affect the taste of the mangoes and increases the shelf life of the produce.
“It (irradiation process) will kill pathogens, which are actually the reasons why the shelf life of most produce decreases, because the pathogens actually cause the produce to rot. So, the taste of the mangoes will remain the same,” he assured.
For his part, farmer and exporter of mangoes to the US, Jordan Dawson of Dawson’s Trading Company, said that export of the produce is very beneficial to the island’s agricultural landscape.
“This is a very beneficial step that has been taken for the farmers in Jamaica. I encourage the farmers to get up to the standard, contact the Ministry and get registered, so you can sell to importers in the US market in times of glut or oversupply,” Dawson said.