Mango Festival 2015 – A NWRPTT and CANROP success story

The following is a document prepared by the University of West Indies Business Unit about the “Mango Festival” hosted at NAMDEVCO Market, Macoya, Trinidad

This document gives a synopsis of the event, its impact on SWLED entrepreneurs, and the testimonials of SWLED entrepreneurs.

OVERVIEW

The Network of Rural Women Producers of Trinidad and Tobago celebrates the diversity and economic potential of the mango fruit by hosting its annual “Mango Festival”. This year the event celebrated its 7th year on 5th July, 2015 at the NAMDEVCO Market, Macoya. The festival is one of the largest local food events and tourism attraction and draws international and local visitors. This year visitors and delegates from Guatemala and Suriname participated in the event.

The Southwest LED team joined forces with the Network of Rural Women Producers Trinidad and Tobago to offer entrepreneurs from Trinidad’s southwest communities the opportunity to participate at the Mango Festival Event. Specifically, this activity gave entrepreneurs the opportunity to participate at one of the largest local fairs and served as a point of synergy between entrepreneurs, potential investors and the market. The Mango festival was a critical opportunity to expose entrepreneurs under the southwest LED brand to both local and regional investors, and customers. The festival provided an avenue for MSMEs to showcase their products and services specific to the southwest peninsula, provide a space for entrepreneurs to dialogue, network and build relationships with  potential clients and investors and to build southwest specific knowledge and information pools that could be accessed bythe entrepreneurs (potential and existing) in the southwest peninsula.

Fora such as the mango festival serve as a vehicle to drive the discussions on the existing and potential investment opportunities in the region and hence create the environment for positive interaction and interest in the Southwest Peninsula.

OBJECTIVES

The Network for Rural Women Producers of Trinidad and Tobago hosted its Mango festival with the following objectives:

  • To raise awareness of the health benefits and creative uses of the Mango fruit
  • To support women in rural communities by creating an opportunity for them to showcase their products and services
  • To add a unique niche event in the local tourism industry
  • To support the growth of the Mango industry
  • To educate the public on the Mango Industry, its growth, and the potential of the Mango Festival as a tourism attraction in Trinidad.
  • To showcase the exploitation of the mango fruit
  • Environmental consideration with the use of material
  • To Support the culture as it relates to mango consumption

 MANGO FESTIVAL EVENT

The opening ceremony provided the opportunity for delegates from partnering organizations to bring greetings and express appreciation and commitment for the mango festival. The head table consisted of President of the Network of Rural Women Producers Trinidad and Tobago (NRWPTT), Ms Gia Gaspard-Taylor, Mr. Ganesh Gangapersad, Manager of the National Agriculture Marketing and Development Corporation (NAMDEVCO), Director of Inter American Institute for Corporation on Agriculture (IICA) Gregg C.E. Rawlins, Her Excellency Ambassador Suriname Fidelia Graand-Galon and Commonwealth Youth Winner Ms Nolana Lynch.

Mr.Gangapersad opened the ceremony with greetings reiterating Namdevco’s continued commitment to the festival. He emphasized the importance of initiatives like the mango festival in highlighting agribusiness investment opportunities and the need to develop value added products, using locally grown fruits and vegetables and the importance of investment and marketing opportunities for entrepreneurs and innovators.

Ms.Gia Gaspard-Taylor welcomed the crowd to the 7th annual mango festival and indicated that this year’s event is even more exceptional as the NRWPTT also celebrates 20 years. She indicated that mango festival started in 2009 and has successfully grown and attracted regional and local attention over the years. She stated that NRWPTT has strategically partnered with various organizations over the seven year period. NRWPTT has longstanding relationships with Ministry of Food Production, NAMDEVCO, PTSC, UWI and IICA. Ms Gaspard-Taylor indicated that this year NRWPTT has strategically partnered with the Trade and Economic Development Unit, University of the West Indies to provide opportunities for 13 persons from the southwest peninsula to participate at the Mango Festival, allowing for the highest number of participants from rural communities of the southwest thus far, to be part of the festival.

The feature address was delivered by Ms.Nolana Lynch, Youth Affairs officer of the NRWPTT, and Winner of the 2015 Commonwealth Youth Award for excellence in development work for the Caribbean. Ms Lynch expressed thanks to NRWPTT, stating that because of their annual Mango Festival she and the company has received local and international recognition. She indicated that she joined NRWPTT and entered the festival in 2012 when her company Eco-Truffles was established. Eco-Truffles is a company that offers a range of all –natural skin and hair care products. She indicated that through her networking opportunity with the NRWPTT, her company has formed sustainable value chain linkages for raw materials with rural women producers locally and throughout the Caribbean.

Director of IICA, Mr. Gregg Rawlins, lamented that IICA was delighted to celebrate with NRWPTT yet another year. He indicated that IICA has been and will continue to be instrumental in the mango festival. He recognized the contribution of the mango festival as a tourism product as well as to enhance the competitiveness of agricultural products such as mango.  He commended the NRWPTT for their focus on providing an avenue for investment opportunities and enhanced production capabilities. He reiterated that IICA aims to provide support to organizations such as NRWPTT in order to achieve sustainable agricultural development.

Other organizations bringing greetings at this year’s festival included Trade and Economic Development Unit on behalf of the SWLED project Team, Public Transportation Services Corporation (PTSC) and Ministry of Food Production.

The Network of Rural Producers of Trinidad and Tobago maintains strategic partnerships with many other organizations to successfully host the event. These include the Tourism Development Company Limited, the Forestry division under the Ministry of Housing and the Environment, among others.

ACTIVITIES

One of the main activities at the festival is the showcase of products and services. This year there was a vast variety of products made from mango. Mango skin and hair care products, mango soaps and deodorant, oils,  mango dishes, drinks, cocktails, candy and ice-creams, cakes, bread, pastries, and a mango wedding cake.

Several other activities and competitions took place at the festival. These included the judging of booths and the most innovative product made from mango, a jingle competition, a mango sucking competition and a mango chow competition.  SWLED entrepreneurs participated in several of the activities such as the mango jingle competition which was entered by Ms. Gillian Quashie, Mango sucking competition Mr. Marlon Pascall entered this event.  The southwest contingent also took home one of the main prizes “best booth” won by Ms.Charmaine Trim-Pascall.

TESTIMONIALS AND FEEDBACK

The table below represents the feedback from the entrepreneurs in attendance at the festival.

Name Product Average Sales in $ Overall experience Testimonial
Merlyn Richardson Barbeque Sauce 1800 Sold out. Did not have enough Very Grateful. Consumers say product is unique, but customers think producers is too far way. She assured customers that she will be willing to distribute to super markets.
Janice Blair Mango Nuts, mango chow, soup 800 Sold Out. She was invited to sell in Santa Cruz, because of the quality. People have called to request. It was worth it.
Krisilla Thomas kuchela/ pepper sauce 500 Mango phoulorie was in high demand I like the idea a lot. I will come to the next event. People kept coming for more mango phoulorie.
Jillian Quashie preserves 700 Sold out by lunch. It was a great event that should be duplicated in different areas of Trinidad and Tobago
Charmaine Trim-Pascall cocktails Drink 2500 She won Best Booth I won Best booth. I met a bartender who tasted my product, and wants to sell the product in his bar. He was interested in purchasing cases of my product. A ministry official wanted to hire my cocktail services for events.
Dean Wilson mango preserves 900 He was asked if he can export her product. It would be better if the event was in Port of Spain, so I can sell my product to a bigger audience.
Glenda Fraser mango roll 280 I did not carry enough products. I ran out. One person made an order for more mango rolls to take abroad. I had a wonderful time. It was a great experience, and the next time I will carry more products to sell.
Sharline Alcide skin care products 3025 I took part in it twice before but the sales were never this good. It was good, because I got a lot of sales, and feedback on my product. Two persons were interested in doing wholesale business with my product. A Matura based group invited me to feature my product in Matura.

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