Mangos from inner West Africa
Mangos from inner West Africa
When translated, Burkina Faso means “the land of honest people”. It is one of the poorest countries of the world, is over 274,000km² in size and is situated in the centre of West Africa. The climate there is tropical and changeable, meaning that there are extremes of dryness and rain with extensive flooding. The average temperatures are between 25°C and 30°C.
French is still the official language in the former French colony. In daily life, a multitude of regional languages and even Arabic is spoken in the country. The country is known for having a certain level of social stability which originates from the cultural diversity of its people of different ethnicities who live peacefully together.
Burkina Faso has a turbulent past. With the adoption of the constitution in 1991, the “Fourth Republic” was set up according to the French model. The country’s opposition, however, is split up into numerous small parties. Democratisation and human rights are also topics of current importance today. 90% of the over 18 million inhabitants make their living from farming, but mostly only do enough to meet their own needs. The export of peanuts and cotton is of international interest, which requires large expanses of intensive monocultures and encourages the degradation of the land. By contrast, reforestation activities immensely improve ground quality and form the basis for diverse vegetation. The ground and climate conditions are ideal for acacia, date, mango, baobab and also eucalyptus trees.
Today, there are over 1000 mango varieties (mangifera indica) located in the tropical rain forest between India and the Philippines, which all vary according to shape, size and taste. However, they all have one thing in common: they grow on an evergreen mango tree which, in certain cases, can even reach a height of 45 metres. The ripe fruit can weigh up to 2kg and along with the flat stone core, which is also used to produce oil, they have thin smooth skin. This can cause allergic skin reactions, as it contains substances which are intended to repel herbivores. In Burkina Faso, the varieties Amelie, Brooks and Kent are primarily cultivated. 12 to 15kg of raw materials are required to produce 1kg of dried Amelie mangoes, for the Brooks variety this is 18 to 25 kg. The fruit colouring ranges from green to yellow to red. The ripe fruit may even have black spots, is soft and aromatic.
With their slightly sour fruity smell, dried mangoes are suitable both as a snack for in between meals and also as an ingredient in muesli, salads, smoothies or desserts. The consistency of the fruits can be altered by softening them in water.
Dried mangoes have a particularly high nutrient concentration as a result of the removal of water. They are a rich source of Vitamin E and also contain beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is not just a determining factor for the orange colour of the fruit pulp, but also part of it is converted to essential vitamin A in the human body. In addition to this, dried mango pieces are a good source of potassium and magnesium. Both of these mineral nutrients play a part in essential human bodily functions. While potassium plays an important role in our nervous systems and is responsible for maintaining its normal functioning, magnesium supports processes like energy metabolism, protein synthesis, maintaining healthy teeth and bones and proper electrolyte balance. In general, magnesium helps reduce tiredness and physical exhaustion.
In the Moré language, “Waka” means “welcome”. Fogué Kouduahou, who founded and runs Groupe WAKA with headquarters in Ouagadougou, is married and has four children. He grew up in Burkina Faso and completed an eight year degree in Moscow as a “technical food processing engineer”. After this, he returned to Burkina Faso and for 12 years, worked as a technical advisor for the Centre Ecologique Albert Schweitzer (CEAS). The CEAS is a Swiss NGO which shares technical expertise to help in the fight against poverty in Africa, and is involved in developing and spreading innovative technologies. Its focuses are in the fields of craftsmanship, renewable energy, water and waste management, sustainable farming practices and food processing.
Fogué Kouduahou specialised in the processing of organic mangoes and the hygiene regulations connected to this. His business plan involves persuading small farmers to cultivate mangoes in line with organic standards and to process these in accordance with his specifications, so that they can be exported. The Groupe WAKA company was founded in 2009. There are now five groups of farmers who cultivate mangoes on an area of a total size of 300 hectares. For the Amelie variety, harvest time is in April and May, for the Brooks variety from June until the end of July. In this time, up to 200 people – the majority of whom are female – work on the associated mango farms and harvest the half ripened mangoes in order to then transport them via lorry up to 600km away to Ouagadougou. WAKA has operated its own processing facility there since 2011, and since then has also had a close business relationship with MorgenLand. The organic mangoes are stored for a short period until they are completely ripe, before they are sorted, peeled, sliced and then dried in a gas-powered drying facility for approx. 12 hours. When dried, ripe mangoes can be very dark and have a naturally sweet flavour which does not need further sweetening. The processing facility’s integrated quality management system is in line with MorgenLand’s requirements relating to organic standards and HACCP, and is being further developed in line with IFS. This represents exceptional service when the present infrastructure in Burkina Faso is considered.
The dried organic mangoes are packed into boxes after quality control, transported via train in a maritime container to the coast, and from there shipped to Germany. At MorgenLand after a comprehensive incoming inspection, which also includes organoleptic testing, the mango pieces are then filled in containers as MorgenLand mangoes 100g and 200g and delivered to the organic markets.
Fogué Kouduahou (left) and MorgenLand Project Manager Kees Maris in Burkina Faso.