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When waste means business

An agri-business in Cambodia tackles the issue of oversupply of mangoes by converting them into dried fruit snacks

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This January I had the opportunity to work with Kirirom Food Production, an agri-business run by women in Cambodia. As a part of a student consulting team  from Cornell University, I got to see first hand how surplus mangoes were converted into a healthy dried snack in Cambodia's Kirirom region, thereby providing employment to people in the countryside.  Here is the story of how Kirirom aims to attain environmental sustainability by utilizing excessive mangoes, in their own words: 

"At Kirirom, we believe all parts of the mango can be used productively across all seasons. We discovered some of the difficulties farmers were facing in the industry. The fertile land produced more mangoes than the market could absorb, and the oversupply led to large amounts of spoilage and unnecessary waste. Prices of mangoes plummeted to near worthlessness during the harvest season which translated into decreased incomes for farmers. Determined to alleviate the situation, we invested in a dried fruit manufacturing plant. By processing the unsold fresh mangoes, we aim to stabilize farmers’ incomes during harvest season. Today, to reduce waste, we compost all byproducts, like skins and seeds."

In conversations with mango farmers, we learnt how only "perfect" mangoes get picked up for export whereas "lesser" mangoes that don't stand up to aesthetic standards end up being wasted. We loved all the varieties of dried mango Kirirom was producing, and wondered what it would take to promote dried fruits as a healthy snack.

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What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

Preserving fruits is an age-old tradition is many parts of the world, but dry fruits don't enjoy the same popularity. Will social labels on these products help utilize fruits that would have gone to waste?

Tell us about your work experience:

I'm a journalist turned international development practitioner with a passion in agriculture, food and cultures. Strategy through story-telling is my new muse.

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Photo of marco mihambo

Hello Amruta Byatnal! thanks for sharing your innovative and promising ideas .....I would like to request you if you don't mind to pass through my idea under feedback stage and advise accordingly for further improvement from the title, its modes if operation and others e.t.c

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