The mango harvesting season is just around the corner here in Kenya (it typically starts in October onwards to February). Soon truckloads and truckloads of the commodity will make their way into the city fighting to get a share of the ever competitive market.

Back in the villages where these nutritious fruits are grown, over 60% of harvest will go to waste simply because it will not get to the market on time. That’s a cycle that keeps repeating itself year after year… and you can bet that this year the same story will be replayed.

But is there something a small entrepreneur can do about it? The answer is yes. In developed countries, they don’t let their mangoes go to waste. Instead, they make mango powder out of them and distribute it all year round. That clever way of doing things saves the farmers from losing their precious harvest and creates new opportunities for problem solvers to profit from.

Let’s talk about how you can get started on this kind of project.

Why Mango Powder Business Has Great Potential

By converting mangoes into powder, you will essentially be engaging in something called value addition. As you know, mangoes are highly perishable and therefore by converting them into powder you will be increasing their shelf-life and getting more value out of them.

But who buys mango powder? You might want to ask.

Well, the answer is simple – anyone who loves mangoes would buy mango powder if the product is marketed to them. Yoghurt companies, cake bakers and even juice makers are just a few examples of potential buyers of this powder. You can even sell it to households that have embraced healthy eating habits.

Globally, mango powder is popular in Asia and USA communities (popularly refer to it as Amchoor) who use it to fortify meals and juice.

How You Can Get Started

First you need to get in touch with farmers so that you can secure a steady supply of mangoes. Typically, a kilo goes for Ksh.15 during the peak season. Almost every part of Kenya produces mangoes but the semi-arid Eastern region is the top producer (producing 60% of Kenya’s mango harvest per year). Some of the places you can shop include Kirinyaga, Murang’a, Embu (Ishiara) and even Kitui.

Aside from the mangoes you will need a biomass solar drier which you can either make at home or purchase ready-made. You will also need a grinder whose job will be to convert dried mango peels into fine powder.

Another optional addition is sodium benzoate, a food preservative, which you may need to enhance the shelf-life of your product. You can find this and other preservatives at any local shops that sell food colors.

Lastly you will require some transparent packaging bags and a sealer – you can get these in shops that sell polythene bags.

Mangoes (Opening Stock) – Ksh.10,000

Solar Drier – Ksh.10,000

Grinder (Food Processor)* – Ksh.5,000

Sodium Benzoate – Ksh.1,000

Packaging Equipment – Ksh.5,000

Miscellaneous – Ksh.5,000

BUDGET – Ksh.36,000

*For huge commercial production you can use a manual grinder which costs Ksh.90,000 or an electric one that costs Ksh.400,000.

The Returns

Well, the math is simple. You need 120 mangoes to produce 1 Kilogram of Powder which goes for Ksh.1,000 on the market. 120 mangoes will cost you Ksh.300 at the farm price. We are therefore talking about triple returns after value addition.

Therefore, Ksh.10,000 worth of mangoes would give you roughly Ksh.30,000 in returns. Ksh.100,000 worth of mangoes would give you Ksh.300,000 in returns… and so forth.

Final Word

This can be a good idea especially if you approach it from the angle of making change in the society as opposed to making some quick bucks. But the most interesting bit about it is that by venturing out with your small amounts of capital you can empower others around you and possibly even pioneer a local industry that would change agri-business forever – cheers to mango powder.