October 31, 2012, 4:27pm
The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) through the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) is set to implement clustering of mango growers in Guimaras in Region VI and in five other identified provinces in five regions to encourage mango farmers to produce enough quality mangoes for export.
PCAARRD said the clustering of mango growers is one of the sub-components of the P32-million DOST-funded project called “Advancing the Philippine Mango Industry: Production of Export-Quality Mangoes” which will be implemented in Regions I, II, III, IV, VI and XII starting this year up to 2015 by state universities and colleges and institutions where mango was identified as a focal commodity.
According to Dr. Edna Anit, assistant director of PCAARRD’s Crop Research Division during the Farms Industry Encounter through Science and Technology Agenda (FIESTA) Techno Forum held in Jordan, Guimaras last April 17, small mango farmers forming themselves into groups or clusters will serve as a production unit of quality and safe mango fruits that will enhance the access of Philippine mangoes to high-end markets.
Mango, particularly the “Carabao” cultivar, is among the top export commodities of the country. Data from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics show that the country’s mango exports (fresh and processed) in 2009 was 20,562 metric tons (MT) valued at $23.52 million which is 3.21% higher in terms of volume, and 1.84% higher in value than in 2008.
Under the cluster system, 5 to 10 farmer-cooperators each having a minimum of 1-hectare will be consolidated and adopt the appropriate production technology on mango such as integrated crop management (ICM), integrated pest management (IPM), good agricultural practices (GAP), and traceability concept. A cluster will have an average total area of 10 hectares.
Anit said the participating clusters will be supervised by a project leader who will also train and capacitate the members on the implementation of ICM/IPM, GAP and QA.
These clusters will then be linked to the market, domestic or export, in the case of the latter either through direct marketing or through accredited buyers. Once the markets of these clusters have been identified, technical backstopping at each step in the handling chain will be done to ensure delivery of mango fruits that meet the standards of quality and safety.
Once implemented, the mango growers clusters are expected to be capable of supplying markets with quality and safe mango fruits. Production will also increase from the present 6 MT per hectare to 10 MT per hectare; while postharvest losses will be reduced from 30% to 15%.
Guimaras Governor Felipe Hilan A. Nava welcomes the new developments as the province is optimistic to revive its mango exports. The province has been unable to export fresh mangoes in the last five years due to low production as affected by erratic weather conditions and climate change. From previous 12,000 MT per year, Guimaras’ production now averages 7,000 MT per year.
The Guimaras-based National Mango Research and Development Center, the country’s leading research institution on mango, is now on the process of continuous selection of new cultivars from Carabao which will have thick peel and flesh with red blush and has good resistance to anthracnose, a major postharvest disease of mango.
Aside from clustering of mango growers, the project will also explore the development of mechanization technologies for pre- and postharvest operations to support local mango growers.
Such improvement is also seen to generate jobs from the adoption of management practices such as pruning, bagging and hot water treatment, which, according to PCAARRD, are not conventionally done by most growers.