Trying to gain profit from growing small mango trees in Tainan, Taiwan.
By Zac Sarian
Growing mango trees that have been dwarfed through drastic pruning is a money-maker for a 49-year-old farmer in Tainan, Taiwan. The farmer is Lee Yu Cheng, who has rented a farm measuring 8,600 square meters that he planted to a new red mango variety called “Ivan.”
The mango trees are planted about 4 meters apart, so the farm has about 500 trees. Mr. Lee said that last year, he grossed NT$ 600,000 from his harvest from his 6-year-old trees. That’s equivalent to ₱1,080,000 in Philippine money at the current foreign exchange rate.
His farming operation has been a profitable one. Lee said he rents the farm for NT$ 50,000 a year and his inputs and labor cost him a total of another NT$ 50,000 for a total production cost equivalent to ₱180,000 in Philippine money. Hence, he netted the equivalent of ₱900,000 from that small farm last year. Of course, that’s not his only income for the year. After all, the mango farm does not require full-time attention every day.
He said that when his trees are 10 years old, he expects a much bigger income because each tree can yield 150 fruits that could weigh 40 kilos. That could give him more than double what he made from his 6-year-old trees last season.
Lee follows TGAP or Taiwan’s Good Agriculture Practices. Every input that he applies to his organic mango trees is recorded and checked by a government agency that makes sure the fruits are free of any chemical residue. He does not apply any chemical pesticide and fertilizers.
The Ivan variety is highly suitable for growing as dwarfed trees. They can be maintained as low-growing trees. The variety is fruitful and the eating quality is excellent. The fruit has a very nice flavor.
Through drastic pruning, the Ivan mango can be maintained at a height of about six feet or thereabouts. Planting low-growing mango trees like what Lee Yu Cheng has been doing has its advantages. For one, the trees are very easy to manage. One can easily spot if there are problems that arise, like pest infestation, for instance.
Harvesting the fruits is very convenient because they are within easy reach. Checking the fruits if they are ready for harvesting is no problem. The fruits can be easily bagged to protect them from pests and diseases. By the way, Lee uses a very durable paper material designed for bagging mangoes and other fruits so that they are not attacked by fruit flies and other pests.
The Ivan mango is very attractive because of its red color. It also has good shipping quality because the skin is thicker than that of our carabao mango. The Ivan variety is grown by many farmers in the Tainan and Pingtung counties, and the fruits find their way to foreign markets like Japan, Hong Kong and elsewhere.
We visited Mr. Lee’s Hsiao Chong Fruit Farm on June 12, 2017 together with other media people from the Philippines. We were invited by Calem Ngan of the Taiwan Leisure Farm Development Association in collaboration with Jane Cheng of Everbright Travel Agency.
By the way, June is the mango season in Taiwan, and not far from the farm of Mr. Lee is a cozy place that serves what they call “Mango Shave Ice.” This is served in a bowl full of shaved ice and small chunks of ripe Ivan mango. It makes a super snack on a hot day.
This story appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s August 2017 issue.