Group Title: Olasee Davis articles
Title: Mango could be play a major role in V.I. tourism industry
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/CA01300919/00213
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Title: Mango could be play a major role in V.I. tourism industry
Physical Description: Archival
Language: English
Creator: Davis, Olasee
Publication Date: August 28, 1998
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Bibliographic ID: CA01300919
Volume ID: VID00213
Source Institution: University of the Virgin Islands
Holding Location: University of the Virgin Islands
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

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20 The Daily News, Frday, August 28, 1998



Mango could be play a major


role in V.I. tourism industry


It was Clinton George, the pro-
gram leader for the agriculture and
natural resources component of
UVI's Cooperative Extension Ser-
vice, who conceived the idea of cre-
ating a mango festival on St. Croix.
This past June, CES, St. George
Village Botanical Garden, the
V.I.Department of Agriculture and
USDA sponsored the second annual
mango melee festival in St. Croix.
Hundreds of people showed up
at the botanical garden to sample
and purchase some of the items
made from mango. Those of you
who did not attend the mango
melee surely missed a cultural fami-
ly fun day. The festival centered
around mango and the many prod-
ucts that can be made from it. The
whole idea of having a mango festi-
val is so that mango can be enjoyed
year round instead of only during
mango season.
Mango is one of the most cele-
brate tropical fruit. In fact, it is
known as the king of tropical fruits.
It is also a member of the family
Anacardiaceac, which is a highly
poisonous plant family. Mango
(Mangifera indica) is native to
Burma, a region of India. It has
been cultivated in India for over
4,000 years. The history of mango
to me is fascinating.
It has been said that Buddhist
monks took mango to eastern Asia
and Malaya in fourth and fifth cen-
turies B.C. The Persians were also
believed to have carried the fruit to
East Africa around the 10th century
A.D. The portuguese introduced
mango to West Africa and Brazil in
the early 16th century. After the
fruit was introduced to Brazil,
mango was carried to the West
Indies and planted on Barbados in
about 1743.
Later, the fruit arrived in the
Dominican Republic. It reached
Jamaica around 1782. From there,
mango spread throughout the West
Indies and arrived sometime in the


Virgin Islands in the 1800s. Mango
was also introduced in Florida, the
southern tip, in 1833 by Dr. Henry
Perrine. The seedlings of those
mangoes died after Perrine was
killed by Indians.
However, seeds were introduced
from the West Indies to Miami by
Dr. Fletcher in 1862 or 1863.
St. Croix has a rich agricultural
history. The evidence of agriculture
on St. Croix is in the many
greathouses, sugar mills and the
pagers of written history.
As a people, we have no agricul-
tural product to boast about except
for the St. Croix white head sheep
and the Senepol cattle, which are
native bred and are not advertised
or pushed by this government as an
important commodity of the Virgin
Islands. Mango has the potential of
becoming a major industry in the
Virgin Islands if we are serious
about the future of agriculture in
these islands.
The trees adapt well to a wide
variety of our soils in the Virgin
Islands and have over 200 years of
acclimation in our tropical environ-
ment. On the northwest of St.
Croix, there are mango trees over
200 years old, which are producing
fruit. Historically, the northwest
side of St. Croix was known as the
heart of agriculture because of its
deep rich top soil.
In the 1730s, Reimert Haa-
gensen spoke about the rich topsoil
in the northwest side of the island.
"It is an indication of good, rich
land where the topsoil is blackest
and deepest, whether those soils are


located on mountains or in valleys.
In those places, the forests are
thicker and the trees larger than in
other areas."
The soils on the northwest side
of St. Croix were so rich that
planters complained about the fer-
tility of the soil.
Haagensen mentioned, "In such
rich soil the canes grow to such a
height and thickness that they bend
and fall over, often breaking off
near the root. Those canes do not
yield anything but water, probably
because of their great growth, and
consequently, they are useless for
the production of sugar. As a result,
a planter whose land is so rich does
not produce much sugar during the
fruit's two to four years of cultiva-
tion, because most of the cane juice
is water, which in cooking reduces
to nothing."
The northwest of St. Croix,
which is filled with rich topsoil, are
threatened now by housing devel-
opment. Believe me, this system of
government makes me sick to the
heart because we are destroying
priceless natural resources for the
love of mpney. I don't know what's
wrong with us as a people. But I
will say this, the other Caribbean
islands are learning from our mis-
takes and will dominate the tourist
industry in the future because of
proper planning.
Mango is a crop we can com-
mercialize and make a major part of
our culture and the tourist industry
by making jams, jellies, mango
chow and the list goes on. At the
second annual mango festival, the
extension service published a recipe
book on mango called "Mango:
Bits & Bites." The book is available
at the St. Croix campus bookstore
for $7.
This article reflects the view of
Olasee Davis, a St Croix ecologist,
activist and writer who has a mas-
ter of science degree in range man-
agement and forestry ecology.




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