For consumers globally, mango is one of the most popular tropical fruits. And it’s not just the whole fruit that is coveted – mango purees, concentrates and other products can be found in everything from yoghurts to baby food. But, with sustainability and label-friendliness now a worldwide priority, how can manufacturers and NPD teams ensure that this tasty fruit is good for everyone involved – from farmers to consumers?
As part of their sustainable sourcing efforts, SVZ and Danone are doing their part with a joint initiative and with Mother Dairy, one of SVZ’s food processing partners in India, and have embarked on a toilet sponsorship programme for remote mango farmers across India. This initiative empowers growers to make a positive impact at the first mile of the supply chain.
For Rangaiah, a mango farmer located in the Indian state of Karnataka, the toilets have had a significant impact on his farm’s operations. “The new toilets have been beneficial in terms of employing women; since the implementation of the new facilities, female labourers have shown more interest in working on my farm. This is positive for the wider community as well, as these labourers are now able to financially contribute to their family’s income.”
With more than 20 years’ experience growing mangos, there isn’t much Rangaiah doesn’t know about the fruit and it requires his attention and hard work throughout the year: from planting the crop in October, to harvesting in June. When asked why he chose to cultivate mango, the answer was simple: “Mango is the most profitable crop as it provides fruit every year, and the prices are always good. Originally, my parents were growing millet and were barely making a living – with mango, I’m able to support my family in a better way. My son, for example, has studied to become a lawyer.”
The introduction of a new toilet facility to the farm isn’t the only sustainable initiative Rangaiah has embraced. The construction of bunds – or dams which reduce water erosion while keeping rainwater and fertiliser in the field – have proved valuable in terms of adding moisture to the soil and optimising growing conditions. “Sustainability is beneficial – I’ve embraced it, and I’m telling my neighbours to do the same. They can see the benefits for themselves, for example, in how we’re taking care of our surrounding environment. With no harmful chemicals used on our plants, local wildlife is safe and thriving.”
It’s a similar story for Kantharaju, a farmer from Shambudevanahalli, also based in the Karnataka region. All 6 members of his family are involved in the daily running of his farm, where he has been growing mangos for more than 30 years. Attracted to the lower expenses and high quality and yield associated with the fruit –specifically the Badami variety – and the fact that it grows with normal rainfall amounts, are just some of the mango’s benefits.
In the same way as Rangaiah, Kantharaju has also benefitted from a new SVZ / Danone-sponsored toilet, and he also sees the main benefits as being around supporting female labourers. “The new toilet not only improves the overall hygiene of the farm, via an underground water system and septic tank, but it is also proving of interest to female labourers who value the privacy and the sanitariness.”
For Kantharaju, sustainable mango production is undoubtedly the future. “Once planted, mango trees last more than 50 years and sustainable practices significantly improve both quality and yield.” Aside from implementing the toilet facilities, Kantharaju has also introduced farm bunds to prevent the running off of rainwater and healthier soil: “With bunds, we can retain enough moisture to sustain the mango trees for a year.”
“By being more sustainable, I can improve both the productivity of the farm, the yield of the fruit, and the price I receive for my crop.”
For both SVZ and Danone, the sustainability of fruit and vegetable ingredients can only be achieved by implementing ethical practices across the entire supply chain. Promoting sustainable initiatives at the start of the supply chain, with farmers like Rangaiah and Kantharaju, is a crucial part of the process, and ensures that only the highest-quality product is added to products.
With half a century of knowledge between them, there isn’t much to teach both Rangaiah and Kantharaju about growing tasty, healthy mangos. But what responsible manufacturers can do is provide fair pricing systems and sustainability-focused training, and give farmers the stability to invest in safe, environmentally conscious and regenerative agricultural practices.
SVZ and Danone are working together to create the food and beverage products of tomorrow, with delicious, ethically sourced fruit and vegetable ingredients. Interested in embarking on a similar, sustainability-focused initiative with us? Get in touch with the SVZ team today, we have plenty of ideas…