Dark yellow, pleasantly sweet, full of vitamins – it’s no wonder that mangoes are so popular. However, what comes onto the European market often tastes bland. Harvested immature in the growing countries, the mangoes no longer develop their full aroma and the sun is missing.
Yvonne Otieno, head of Miyonga in Kenya’s Machakos County, has the solution:
dried mango strips and fruit powder. Not only does it give tens of dishes an authentic mango taste, it also helps solve economic and social problems in Otieno’s homeland. How it works?
“I don’t run a business,” she says. “I fight against food waste.” Otieno used to work as a Development Communication expert for international aid organizations, at some point she wanted to set up something herself that would drive Kenya’s development forward. She found her business opportunity in one problem: food waste. As in many other African countries, a large proportion of the food produced for export in Kenya ends up in the garbage every year. “About 40 percent of the fruits and vegetables do not make it into the supply chain because the goods are considered to be of inferior quality,” says Otieno. “If the goods don’t look perfect, if a mango only has a small flaw, it will be sorted out by the international buyer at the latest, and a large part of it is already rotting on the farm.”
Strict market norms – little income
In addition to the food itself, valuable resources are also wasted on cultivation, packaging and transport. The strict norms of the market mean many small farmers in Kenya and massive income losses for local middlemen. Lower income means fewer opportunities for the country’s development, families lack the money for school fees and education for children, for transport and good health care. Although Kenya is increasingly suffering from climate change and droughts, more than 80 percent of the people make a living from agriculture, with 32 percent of the gross national product it is the backbone of the Kenyan economy.
For Otieno, it quickly became clear what the farmers were missing.
“You do not have the knowledge or the technology to further process your raw materials, as pure raw material producers you are completely dependent on the requirements of the global market.” Your company Miyonga, founded in 2015 together with your sister Dorothy, fills the gap. Otieno and her 9-member team offer farmers help in refining the goods: They train them in processing with modern machines, they advise on cultivation techniques and the necessary certificates, they act as trading partners. Discarded mangoes, bananas, pineapples and coconuts are now turned into aromatic dried fruits and fruit powder with attractive potential for the international market.