With over 2.5 million farmers in it, the mango industry in the country is considered one of the backbone industries of the local agriculture sector.

By Julio Yap, Jr.

The Carabao mango variety is among the country’s vital export products. Known on the international market as the “Manila Super” mango, it is considered one of the best varieties in the world.

It has very high potential as an export commodity, whether fresh or in processed form. It ranks third among the country’s exports in terms of volume, with a production of about 885,000 metric tons, and area coverage, which is about 188,100 hectares. These figures, according to a report by the Philippine Statistics Authority in 2015, place mango next to the production volume of banana and pineapple.

The initiative resulted in the increase in yield of the cluster members by about 42 percent. Under the program, a mechanical mango picker was developed by the University of Southeastern Philippines.

Industry challenges: However, industry problems have greatly affected its performance in the international market. Specifically, its declining yield and quality could be attributed to pests and diseases, poor nutrient and water management, low adoption of improved technologies, and high post-harvest losses.

Other industry problems include difficulty in farm operations due to the large size of the Carabao mango tree, non-assurance that planting materials sold in nurseries are true-to-type Carabao mango, and the high cost of production due to inefficient pesticide application.

Aside from these setbacks, there are policy issues and concerns that impede the advancement of the mango industry.

A program of solutions: To address these challenges, the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (PCAARRD-DOST) crafted the Industry Strategic S&T Program or ISP for mango.

PCAARRD says that the ISP for mango aims to increase yield, currently at 5.82 metric tons/hectare (mt/ha), by 158 percent or to 15 mt/ha; reduce postharvest losses by 65 percent, from 40 percent to 14 percent; and enhance the capabilities of mango growers with Integrated Crop Management (ICM), Post-harvest Quality Management (PQM), and Good Agricultural Practices (GAP).

Under the PCAARRD’s National Science and Technology (S&T) Program for Carabao Mango, information, education, and communication (IEC) materials on enhanced integrated pest management (IPM) for the management of mango twig borer (MTB) and cecid fly or “kurikong,”—two of the most serious insect pests of mango—were developed by the Ramon Magsaysay Technological University (RMTU).

Through the initiative, suitability and vulnerability maps on mango production in Western Visayas are now available under a project on Geographic Information System (GIS) implemented by the University of the Philippines in the Visayas (UPV).

In the area of plant breeding, putative mango hybrids with target traits such as red blush and thick skin, and resistance to pests and diseases were identified by the Institute of Plant Breeding of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (IPB-UPLB).

The development of a diagnostic kit for the identification of true-to-type Philippine Carabao mango assures the availability of quality planting materials. The Visayas State University (VSU), in collaboration with the University of Southern Mindanao (USM), developed the diagnostic kit.

Under the program entitled “Advancing the Philippine Mango Industry: Production of Export Quality” which is led by the UPLB, at least 17 clusters of mango growers were organized in Regions 1, 2, 3, 4A, 6, and 12. Because of the initiative, more than 120 cluster members were trained on mango ICM, GAP, and PQM in an effort to expand the supply base of good quality mango fruits for domestic and export markets. This resulted in the increase of yield of the cluster members by about 42 percent.

Another project under the program, which was implemented by the University of Southeastern Philippines (USeP), is the development of pre- and post-harvest equipment such as a mechanical fruit picker, low-volume power sprayer, and model integrated postharvest facility.

An ongoing program entitled “Enhancing Competitiveness of Philippine ‘Carabao’ Mango through Varietal Improvement Program,” which is led by IPB-UPLB, aims to identify molecular markers associated with red blush, thick peel, and resistance to fruit fly and anthracnose through the genotype by sequencing (GBS) technology, and develop hybrids with these target traits.

PCAARRD is optimistic that under this program, the country will have another competitive variety, which is intended for the domestic and export markets in the near future.

Valuable outputs from the completed and ongoing programs are expected to benefit the industry, and ultimately, the livelihood of the local mango farmers through valuable S&T interventions. (Source: http://www.pcaarrd.dost.gov.ph/home/portal/index. php/quick-information-dispatch/2925-dost-pcaarrd-s-r-dinitiatives-to-advance-the-mango-industry)

This story appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s September 2017 issue.