Tanzanian mango exports to Europe are set to increase this yearfollowing the introduction of several measures intended to boost trade between the East African country and the European Union.

Chief among these measures has been the development of new improved varieties, including Viringe, Munyuni, Bonyoa and an improved version of the Tommy Atkins variety.

Last year Kenya produced more than 94,204 tonnes of mango, with an estimated 7,122 tonnes heading to Europe. Tanzania is now set to overtake its biggest economic rival in the region in terms of mango exports to the EU.

The country's second biggest export market for mangoes at present is the Middle East, which imports more than 3,750 tonnes a year.

“Scientific development to improve food production is vital,' said the Tanzanian High Commissioner to Kenya during an interview in Nairobi. 'We want to improve our competition dramatically. We see this year as an opportunity to showcase our might as a major exporter. We believe as a country we can compete with anybody.'

He added that several projects to boost mango exports were alreadyunderway, such as research into the further development of new varieties.

'I export my mangoes to Europe,' commented Geoffrey Annasa, a Tanzanian exporter based in Kenya. 'I have to say that the prices still remain low compared to most tropical fruits, but there is potential for further growth. There is a lot of inter-trade on the fruit within the East African community (EAC) and the Middle East, not to mention Europe.”

Annasa makes a total of US$123,000 a year on mango exports, as he is also alarge-scale farmer of the fruit in the Tabora region of Tanzania.