How to cultivate mangos for profit – Mango production – An overview

Mango tree

James Mwangi Ndiritu

Environmental Governance and Management, Agribusiness consultant

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Many consider mango the “king” of fruits since it is consumed fresh and used in the production of desserts, fruit juices, and marmalades. Additionally, it is also a rich source of vitamins A, B, and C, sugar, carbohydrates, protein, fats, fibre, water and many more.

Mango (Mangifera indica) is a large evergreen fruit tree which may live up to 100 years. The crop species mainly originate in Asia, in monsoonal tropical environments with a period of drought (USDA hardiness zones 10-11) but can grow and yield in a variety of climates ranging from warm temperate to tropical. However, nowadays, many hybrids have been produced from the original parents, and mango cultivation has been expanded in many regions around the world. Globally, more than 5.41 million hectares (13.4 million acres) are cultivated with mangoes.

Mango: Environmental conditions 

Mango is mainly considered a tropical fruit due to its sensitivity to extreme cold weather. It does best at a temperature range of 15 – 27 °C (59-81 °F) and can grow successfully from sea level to 600 or even 1400 m (1968-4593) altitude. While mature mango trees can tolerate temperatures up to 48°C (118°F), there is a significant risk of fruit sunburn or reduced fruit setting.

Some trees grow up to a height of 15 metres (49 feet) high, and harvesting becomes challenging if their height is not controlled. With more scientific methods adopted, trees with smaller sizes have been obtained through grafting with either older trees as top working or grafting young seedlings (with a more controlled growth tendency).

While there are even up to 1000 varieties, only 350 of them are commercially cultivated only a few have a strong presence in the global market. Different varieties prevail in each region depending on the local environment and soil conditions.

Factors affecting mango yield

Ineffective measures to control the malformation of fruit result in yield reduction of 10-15 %, and in extreme cases, even up to 60-80 %, both in grafted and seedling mangoes, has been causing yield reduction in many areas. Other causes of low yield are:

  • Imbalanced fertilizer application
  • Lack of irrigation at critical stages due to reliance on rain-fed farming
  • Flooding in some growing areas
  • The lack of management awareness among farmers

Water logging and salinity can also negatively affect mango yield. Heavy irrigation may be given to leach down salts beyond the root zone. The desired level could be achieved by providing a suitable drainage system. The water table should be at least 10 feet below the ground surface. The yield declines with the rising water table and decreases when it reaches about five feet below the ground surface.

Mango Fruit Handling and Marketing Strategy

Its export can be increased by removing the following constraints.

  1. Due to quick ripening and poor fruit handling, the quality degrades by the time it reaches the international markets. Therefore, there is an urgent need to improve the processing, packaging and transportation.
  2. The technological advances in mango export adopted elsewhere should be studied and implemented in ideally suited countries to maintain our product’s competitive grading-quality.
  3. Growers should be trained in modern post-harvest and export strategies.
  4. Quarantine and clearing house formalities need to be completed in a day to maintain the grade of this perishable commodity.
  5. Cold storage facilities should be provided near the growing areas to ensure transport to the airports is done with controlled conditions.
  6. Fungal diseases like powdery mildew, blossom blight, anthracnose etc., have caused significant damage. It may affect the overall production by 10-15%. These diseases should be known to farmers and their effective control strategies.

Marketing and Economic Considerations in Mango Production

Farmers must design their fruit production systems to match their marketing strategies to plan for economically successful enterprises. More than good fruit production is needed to lead to a successful enterprise. Profitability depends on production volume, quality, size, and a reliable marketing strategy. Marketing channels range from direct markets to wholesale markets. Growers must understand what each of their customers wants and be prepared to meet the expectations of the markets they intend to reach. For example, at farmers’ markets, customers seek good-tasting fruit at or near the peak of ripeness for immediate consumption, but supermarket distributors demand that fruit be uniform.

Good production and good quality do not always guarantee good returns at the start. Initial fruit-growing operations and production costs are often higher than those for other crops. Pest control and labour costs for hand thinning and weed control are generally more expensive. Yield and quality can vary widely, depending on the growing season and management practices. To achieve good yields, fruit growers must be prepared to develop innovative production and marketing strategies. Many commercial fruit producers, especially family-scale farmers, minimize waste and losses of potential revenue by processing (drying, preserving, or juicing) fruit considered unsuitable for the fresh market.

There are trade-offs in every marketing strategy. A successful grower must develop markets in which the price for produce adequately compensates for all production costs. Additionally, the marketing process must be compatible with the grower’s personality and business skills. The particular combination of components in any grower’s marketing strategy will depend on local marketing opportunities as well as the grower’s desire to be directly involved in marketing, tolerance for stress, and ability to balance a variety of risk factors. Yield and quality can vary widely, depending on the growing season and management practices.

Total quality of Mango fruits 

Mango fruits’ quality is regulated by quality standards in most countries, providing a common language among the different participants of the production-market chain-consumption chain. Standards are also the legal framework for settling commercial disputes and are useful for reporting on market prices, as prices can only be compared between the same quality categories.

The quality system established by the standards is known as “Inspection for quality”, where representative samples at the final stage of preparation for the market should fulfil the specified limits and their tolerances. Although it is easy to apply, it has at least two big disadvantages:

  1. They are not totally adapted to highly perishable products where quality varies continually.
  2. Its application does not improve the quality of the product; it only separates in degrees the quality that comes from the field.

Total quality is a complete conceptual framework to assure quality to which each person or activity within the production process is committed, aiming at zero defects and the customer’s complete satisfaction, even going beyond his/her expectations. At the same time that TQM was developed, the concept of “Quality Assurance” was established in Europe. Its scope is much easier to implement and probably better adapted to fruit. It is defined as all those planned and systematized actions necessary to guarantee that the product or service will satisfy the quality requirements. It usually requires the fulfilment of specific rules, protocols, or standards explicitly developed and with a certification by an independent company authorized to grant it. The ISO system is the best known, and within it, the series 9000.


Find more information in the book: “Success in Agribusiness: Growing Mango successfully” written by James Mwangi Ndiritu

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Nutritional Value and Health Benefits of Mango

Mango Tree Information and Variety Selection

Mango tree Propagation

How to cultivate mangos for profit – Mango production – An overview

Planning and Planting a Mango Orchard

Mango Water Requirements and Irrigation Systems

Mango tree Fertilization

Most Common Pests Affecting Mangoes

The most important Mango Diseases

Mango: Yield, Harvest and Post-Harvest Handling


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