Brazil has its first-ever organic mango farming system. Research had been underway for over 10 years at the Mandioca e Fruticultura (Cassava and Fruit Culture) unit of the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa). Now, the results are available to growers online in a guide that covers everything from preparing the soil to dealing with pests and irrigation reports anba.com.br
Embrapa has developed organic farming systems for over 50 items in the past, including pineapple. The new mango system was developed for the Chapada Diamantina area of the state of Bahia, but it is replicable anywhere in Brazil. “It was developed for this locality, but it can be adapted to other regions, because all of the basic principles of organic farming are described in the system,” said Ana Lúcia Borges, who’s responsible for the new farming system.
Bahia is the second biggest mango producing state in Brazil, at 442,233 tons harvested in 2019. “Bahia has the largest harvested area in Brazil. At this time, some 100 hectares are farmed organically, mostly by family farmers,” said Borges.
The holder of a doctorate degree in Soil and Plant Nutrition, she argues that the initiative should support smallholder farmers who are already growing mangoes, and in the long run it should make more organic fruit available for domestic sales as well as exports. The first half of 2020 saw 54,352,138 kg of mango shipped from Brazil (including non-organic). The amount was down 21% from H1 2019.
Embrapa partnered up with Bioenergia Orgânicos, a private company with 100% Brazilian capital, for the research work. The company is interested in growing organic mango to process into juice. Working on land owned by the company, the researchers chose two varieties to grow: Ubá mango, which is originally from Minas Gerais and well-suited to juice-making, and Palmer mango, from Florida, United States, which is usually sold whole.