Among the dense branches of its trees hang mango fruits, announcing the time to pick them. Every morning, farmers select the best fruits that smell distinctively to be displayed on the side of the road to woo their lovers. This is how mango vendors welcome you upon your arrival in the city of Ismailia, the kingdom of mangoes.
The city alone on the west bank of the Suez Canal possesses 120,000 acres of mango orchards spread throughout Egypt on an area of 300,000 acres, so it has become one of the main local features that express the identity of the city of Ismailia.
Ismail Al-Attar, the undersecretary of the Ismaili Ministry of Agriculture, told Sky News Arabia: “Ismailia grows 18 local and foreign mango varieties. Productivity per hectare ranges from 3 to 5 tons of local mango varieties and from 6 to 8 tons of foreign varieties.”
Dozens of countries around the world import distinctive Egyptian mangoes. In the last two years alone, Egypt has exported more than 50,000 tons of mangoes, figures that open the appetite of investors to pump more money into mango cultivation and the food industry related to it.
For his part, Ayman Al-Hayam, director of an agricultural development company, said: “Mango cultivation requires many details, starting with the selection of seeds through the stages of seedling growth, sometimes defects occur in these seedlings that affect investment in them.”
He added: “Investment in mangoes is profitable and only requires care and good selection of the site and the right variety for the soil and care.”
The queen of fruits
Mango is the queen of fruits with its delicious taste, many varieties and nutrients rich in protein, vitamins and minerals. Its trees bloom in February and March, and the formation of fruit takes about 5 months, starting to harvest the crop from July every year.
However, extreme weather phenomena due to climate change is the most important challenge for the mango crop as it is affected by severe heat and cold waves, which requires studying appropriate methods to adapt to the risks of climate change.
Infecting fruits with direct sunstroke leads to cracking of the fruit and then infected with rot and white diseases, which worries tens of thousands of Ismailia residents who depend on mangoes as their main source of income as farmers, traders, exporters and manufacturers.
Extinction of some species
The head of the department of vegetables and fruits of the Ismailia Chamber of Commerce, Jalal Abu Taher, said: “30 percent of Ismailia’s residents work in mango production, agriculture, trade and industry.”
“There are species that have become extinct from Ismailia due to climatic changes, such as Timor and Indian, and there are modern foreign species that bear their fruits from the month of September.”
Abu Taher complained: “We have suffered from sooty mold for seven years and many farmers have had to uproot the old mango trees and replace them with new, alien strains.”
Despite the great fame that Egyptian mangoes are gaining in foreign markets, some negative export practices can be an obstacle to opening new markets.
An assistant professor at the Faculty of Agriculture, Suez Canal University, Mr Kaoud, said the export problems are due to the rush to pick the fruits before their growth is complete, as some farmers collect the crop early for export, thereby exposing them to wrinkling, leading to the closure of some foreign markets in front of mangoes.
He stressed: “We call for an export pact that farmers and exporters adhere to, not only to export goods that are fit for export and at the right time.”
It is considered one of the most famous types of mango in Egypt, Al-Owais, Al-Zabadiya, Al-Fons, Al-Sukari, Al-Taimour, Al-Kit and Al-Naomi, each with its own characteristic taste, and each name has its own story.
Qaoud revealed: “The secret behind the diversity of mango varieties in Ismailia is that the farmer here is innovative and has carried out many experiments to plant different mango trees. When a tree is presented with a distinct variety, it begins to expand its cultivation, and types of Owais, Sukkari, Sadika and Alfons appear, this is due to the farmer’s accumulated experience.”
The importance of the mango crop has evolved to hold promotional festivals for it, both in its traditional stronghold of Ismailia or in Aswan in the south, which is unique in producing many varieties and has become a safe haven for other endangered mango varieties. with extinction due to extreme weather conditions.