The Mango Emperor of Mayaro
Kissoondial Nandoo and his daughter Lonella spend several hours a day picking mangoes from the trees on their family’s mango estate. Lonella is one of 13 children, the youngest and the only one who pursued a career in Agriculture. Lonella is the first in her family to attend university. She completed her diploma in agriculture and is pursuing a bachelors in Food Science and Technology. Clearly taught by her father, Lonella is able to navigate through the mango estate and point out the different varieties of mangoes that they grow, the maintenance process, the different fruit and vegetables they grow between the trees and the purpose, whilst admitting that she has so much more to learn about mangoes and agriculture. The Nandoo family sell packaged frozen long mango to supermarkets in the area. Julie, Starch, Long, Rose, Doudous, Number 11, Primrose, Box and Spice, Mayaro girl, several other grafted mangoes and their own variety which they dubbed “stinky,” (the name says it all). Many people think that being the jewel of the Caribbean, the mango is indigenous to our region, however, they are not.
First grown in South East Asia and India over 4000 years ago, Mango is considered fruit royalty to many around the world. In the 15th century it made its way to the Americas with the Portuguese and Spanish explorers. During that time, mangoes did quite a bit of traveling throughout the region making the Caribbean’s rich soil one of its new homes. It is also believed that the indentured labourers also brought a. variety of mangoes to Trinidad and Tobago when they arrived in 1845.
Mr. Nandoo beams with pride when he speaks about the 250 mangoes that he first planted between 2008-2010. Before planting mango trees, Nandoo used the land to plant rice, watermelon and ochro. Nandoo first set out to purchase long mango trees but only until they grew and the trees started to bear, did he realize that he had bought several varieties. He currently has a few trees that grow two different types of mango on the same tree. One tree grows Rose and Long mangoes, the other Box and spice and Long mangoes.
Nandoo tends to his estate on his own, sometimes taking two days to complete. Fire in the dry season, flood and overgrown grass in the rainy season are some of the challenges that him and his daughter face. The flood of 2018 caused a lot of damage to their mango trees but not enough to stop them.
The Nandoo family is currently trying to scale their frozen mango business by creating a small factory on their property with the necessary machinery to make the process more efficient. They also intend on purchasing an ATV to make the picking and transporting of the mango a lot easier on Mr. Nandoo who currently carries 200 mangoes on his back at a time.
The Nandoos are kind, humble folk who are proud to be farmers. It is people like the Nandoos who continue to put in the hard work to provide citizens of T&T with fresh, organic produce. Mango is King but Mr. Nandoo, is the emperor.
Check out our adventures to Mayaro to visit the Nandoo’s estate.