The sun shines on mango farmers of Minuwangoda

Published : 12:02 am  July 11, 2018 | No comments so far |  |  (104) reads | 

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It’s possible that any kind of fruits, rice, cereals or vegetable that we buy from the market may have been ripened due to the use of chemicals or any other preservatives. These chemicals are used to either ensure that these food items are preserved for a long time or to obtain a good harvest.   

It has been reported by the Health Authorities that there is an increase in the percentage of the patients suffering from non communicable diseases. This condition may be caused specially because of the consumption of fruits, cereals, vegetables, rice and various food items which contain chemicals. How much would you fancy to taste a naturally ripe mango, a pineapple, an orange, a guava, a banana or a papaw? If you maintain the natural shape, colour and taste of fruits the natural vitamins within are protected without a doubt. Therefore we don’t have any suspicion and fear when eating such natural fruits.   

  • There was a loss of quality and quantity with regard to the produce
  • Farmers were given instructions through development projects
  • As much as up to 30-35 % of the vegetables and fruits and up to 10-15% of cereals were lost prior to the harvest

The mangoes which have a natural taste and quality are being supplied to the market. These fruits come from mango processing zones in Minuwangoda and the Gampaha District. Given the situation that fruits sold in most places are suspicious, the mangoes plucked from the gardens in these places are trustworthy.   

Boragodawatta in Minuwangoda is famous for the mango business. The popular system adopted so far is the method of ripening the mangoes by spraying chemicals on them. The traders in Boragodawatta encountered  various difficulties such as rotting of mangoes and fruits going waste. Much of the fruit was wasted before reaching the market. As a result the traders were known to supply fruits of low standard.   

There was a loss of quality and quantity with regard to the produce. There were problems associated with the production, ripening, storing, handling and harvesting the produce.   

As with mangoes the cultivators get a low price while consumers have to pay a huge price.

A new technology has been introduced to the mango sellers of Borogodawatta, Minuwangoda. This has been possible due to the project activities conducted during the period 2016-2018 by the Post Harvesting, Technology and Research Institute. The institute understood that millions of rupees are lost to the country due to the situation that existed. As much as up to 30-35 % of the vegetables and fruits and up to 10-15% of cereals were lost prior to the harvest.   

None of the previous Governments had paid any attention to these problems – Bandara

By-products and pre-harvest technology were introduced in place of the old traditional systems that were in use. Farmers were given instructions through development projects. Research was conducted post-harvest using technology. Extension Officer Nisansala Weerasuriya of the Post Harvest Technological Institute of Colombo and officials of the Ministry of Agriculture featured prominently in these sessions.   

Setting standards 

Plucking of mangoes was done by covering the produce with a net. This was the method used instead of plucking mangoes by employing a manual picker. Farmers were introduced to pre-harvesting technical knowledge and collection of mangoes. In the end the produce was sent to the processing centres. They were packed in plastic boxes instead of wooden boxes. Extension Officer Nisansala Weerasuriya introduced the technical system where the produce was transported up to the market from the  processing centre. This was after the fruits were labelled. 

The process involved packing and categorizing and after that the selection of ripened mangoes. This was done by setting up a standard and a system of obtaining ripe mangoes. Efforts were made to keep them in a can in the crank case. The windows were shut by adopting “Ethylene” Gas instead of spreading chemicals to ripen the mangoes.   

The method of getting ripened mangoes is the most important message driven to the minds of the people working in the Muniwangoda Mango Zone. The efforts taken by the Post Harvest Technical Institute regarding this endeavor must be lauded. Traders in the Mango Zone have been educated as to how to produce Ethylene Gas. This technique when used ensures taste and quality and helps produce natural mangoes without poison.   

The special message given by the Post Harvest Technical Institute and Minuwangoda Mango Zone to the people in Minuwangoda is how to ripen mangoes. The Colombo Extension Officer Weerasuriya has created awareness among the businessmen in the mango zone. This is regarding the use of this technology which helps to give the taste and the quality to natural mangoes. This way the produce has no poison.   

There is another special message. Fresh and ripe mangoes can be obtained when the plastic can is taken with fruits after keeping them for 24 hours in the crank case. The door has to be shut properly. 

Afterwards the mangoes are selected according to standard, labeling (Minuwangoda Mangos) and then packed in cardboard boxes and loaded onto vehicles and transported to the market.   

Rs. 6 million have been invested on introducing the technique of post harvest. This has been done by the Technical Institute for Post Harvest of the Ministry of Agriculture.  The project has benefited self-employed Mango Traders in Minuwangoda. This project was done under the theme ‘Developing the village’ by the present Government.   

Therefore 11 out of 30 members of the community producing mangoes were given 11 crank cases. This is used in the ripening of mangoes using sanitary facilities. In addition to this, stickers have been named as Minuwangoda Mangoes. As many as 150 cardboard boxes for packing, two nets for plucking along with 80 baskets have been given to each person.  Two nets and 30 plastic baskets were given to the other 19 members of the society.   

Extension Officer Weerasuriya of the Colombo Post Harvest Technology Institute expressed her views about the Mango Processing Zone at  Minuwangoda.   

“Our institute has a number of objectives. Improved technology in connection with storing and planning of agricultural products were introduced. Better packing and an efficient system of transporting goods were also introduced. These steps helped increase the income of the farmers. Losses were minimized through technical promotion activities  which were put to use during post harvest. Modern and efficient tools were used in the production process. These systems helped the farmers face existing competition both internationally and locally .   

The private sector, organizations, retail merchants and farmers were introduced to the technology. They learned effective techniques which were related to the post harvest period.  They were taught how to market their produce and the use of new technology. There are rural industries which use a secondary processing system. 
When these farmers are given the necessary aid it encourages them. These farmers receive the support given by the Chairman of Post Harvest and Technological Institute and the Minister of Agriculture.   

Benefits 

Satisfactory lives can be led under good living conditions.  These projects have helped bring solutions to their problems. There are many self-employed individuals who have benefited from this Minuwangoda Mango Zone.   

Through these systems consumers are given the opportunity to have fresh mangoes that promise quality. Avenues are opened to produce products such as Mango Jam and Mango Chutney.   

Extension Officer Weerasuriya further said that their institution is always ready to offer support to self employed farmers in the mango zone.   

This is what the farmers who received help have to say. 

“We know how to ripen mangoes”

Treasurer Mango Society Zonal No: 7 Tilakaratna Bandara said that

mango sellers of Borogodawatta, Minuwangoda had faced many difficulties for a long time. “None of the previous Governments had paid any attention to these problems. I take this opportunity to thank the government for providing us with the crank cases, instruments and technology. Now we know how to ripen the mangoes without using  poison,” Bandara said.   

Thanks to the latest modern technology mangoes can be ripened – Dayawansa Pathirana

Job facilities are provided to 400-500 people belonging to 30-40 families  of Boragodawatte, Minuwangoda due to this mango processing project.   

Treasurer Bandara further stressed the need for the Government to implement an Insurance and a loan scheme at low interest rates for the benefit of these self-employed farmers. 

“There was a lot of waste”

Chairman of the Mango Society D.G. Dayawansa Pathirana said that he admired how the problems and losses could be minimized through this project. “Thanks to the latest modern technology mangoes can be ripened. Before the post-harvest technology was introduced mango sellers faced much difficulties. There was a lot of waste,” said Pathirana.   

G.D. Pathmila Dayani of No: 1 Mango Zone said that the solutions have been provided for much of the problems in the mango industry.  

B. Ajith of Mango Zone No: 9 said that theMango Zonal Project is a blessing for mango farmers in the area. “There is great value if this technology is given to other fruit producers as well. There is no stable price for mangoes in the market and it is good if there is a stable price,” he said.   

A Box of mangoes is selling in the market at a price ranging between Rs.2000- 2500. The boxes containing these mangoes carry the label ‘Minuwangoda Mangoes’.  Assistance for the project was provided by the Director of Agriculture in Gampaha District R.P. Kasthuriarachchi.