Haiti opens 2 mango processing plants in northwest

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) – Haiti on Thursday launched two new mango processing factories that will help farmers export more of the juicy tropical fruit that is a $10 million-a-year business in the impoverished country.

Located in two rural towns in the mango-rich northwest, the plants aim to improve packaging and cleaning to decrease the number of mangoes bruised by poor handling and transport on rutted, sun-baked roads.

The two processing plants will employ 62 people to train mango farmers about cleaning and packaging and to better document the origin of their crops to meet standards in the United States, where most Haitian mangoes are sold.

Haiti grows dozens of different varieties that are indigenous to the country. The only type exported to the U.S. is the “Madame Francis,” which is juicy, sweet and a bit fibrous.

Last year, Haiti exported $10 million worth of mangoes, accounting for one-third of the country’s total agricultural export revenue, according to the U.S. Embassy.

With more processing plants, fruit industry leaders think they have the potential to blossom into a $90 million-a-year export business.

The new mango processing centers will increase profits for 9,500 farmers by as much as 20 percent, predicts CHF International, the U.S.-financed group that organized the project. -Jacob Kushner