JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s western province is best known for its high humidity and hot weather from its proximity to the Red Sea coast, which helps to grow an array of delicious tropical fruits, including mango.
The Kingdom is known for growing mango in many cities in the southern region such as Jazan city, where the soil is more likely to be fertile than other regions due to heavy rains. However, this fruit found its way to being grown in vast orchards in western and northern regions of the Kingdom, including Qunfudhah and Umluj city.
With more than 400,000 mango trees in Qunfudhah, the city crop is ranked second in terms of significance in the Kingdom after Jazan.
There are more than 2,700 mango farms in the Qunfudhah governorate, and the annual yield exceeds 40,000 tons. The crop season begins in May and lasts for three months.
Saeed bin Jarallah, director general of the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture’s Makkah branch, said: “Our branch is working to spread quality and economically feasible crops among farmers, by reinforcing its efforts to support agricultural festivals in the region for produce such as mango, rose and honey.”
He added: “The ministry is working to support the cultivation of mango and tropical fruits by providing technical support to farmers in the region.
“It is working to bring tropical fruits specialists from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN and many universities which will contribute greatly to the development of mango production and cultivation.”
Mango cultivation began in Qunfudhah 50 years ago, and 10 mango festivals have been held in the governorate since 2010. These festivals are held to support farmers in marketing their products, introducing them to visitors from around the Kingdom, and encouraging them to develop and grow.
Ali Al-Abdali, mango farmer and owner of Al-Jawaher mango farms in Qunfudhah, has 12 years of experience in the field.
He told Arab News: “Traditional agriculture, such as growing grains and vegetables, was a source of living for my ancestors. However, after the government development in the agricultural sector and the spread of awareness programs, we got to know that this fruit and weather conditions of our region are considered ideal for tropical fruits, especially mangoes.”
Al-Jawaher mango farms include over 30,000 mango trees on 3,200,000 square meters of farmland in Al-Ahsa Valley.
The farmer said that the abundance of desalinated water, the quality of soil, the weather, and constant attention and follow-up are the main factors affecting the cultivation and production of mangoes.
According to Saudi Vision 2030, the Ministry of Environment, Water, and Agriculture is furthering organic agriculture by supporting organic farmers to produce safe, high-quality food, which will preserve the environment and natural resources.
“Our farms have been officially registered in the organic transformation program and we are now under the supervision of a specialized company in organic transformation that has been nominated by the ministry to supervise our farm,” said Al-Abdali. “Now, we will be reaching the stage of being a fully organic production during the upcoming period.”
Some of the mangoes are fully green with different bright colors ranging from golden yellow and reddish to orange blush. The farm produces 60 tons of mango crop per year of different types, including Hindi, Jalan, Tomi Atkins, and the sensation mango. These types come with a strong aromatic mango scent, a sweet taste and smooth pulp.
Products of Al-Jawaher farm are witnessing a “huge success” he said, as it is being distributed domestically in large cities such as Riyadh, Jeddah, Qassim, Makkah, Taif, Hail and Madinah, and can be found in many fruits and grocery shops in these cities.
Mango trees in Umluj
Arab News visited one of the most famous mango farms in Umluj, Muhammadiah farm, owned by Marwan Al-Juhani and his brother Nawaf, who said that they inherited mango growing from their grandfather.
“We still have the very first mango tree on this farm that was planted by my grandfather over 65 years ago,” Al-Juhani told Arab News, noting that each mango tree has to be at least four years old to start to produce crops, and the older it gets the better crop it gives.
Al-Juhani’s farm is only 10 minutes away from the Red Sea shores of Umluj city. Throughout the years, the farm has become a popular destination for visitors and tourists, who enjoy having a walk through the trees, picking mangoes and eating them on site.
With good watering crucial to mango growing, Al-Juhani has an artesian well to support watering their trees throughout the year. His farm has over 400 mango trees and they have participated in several previous mango festivals.