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.
See more here: http://www.kfp.com.kh/