Mango, a major export potential in Central Visayas
By Minerva BC Newman
Cebu City (1 August) -- The establishment of a Mango Irradiation Facility in Cebu is expected to revolutionize the Mango production and export potentials of the Visayas region, says Virginia dela Fuente, chairperson of the Visayas Chamber of Mango Industry (VCMI).
Dela Fuente, in an interview with PIA said, the Philippine Mango, for the past years only enjoys a mere one percent of the average export market share from Hongkong, Japan, Korea and the U.S. There was even a time when the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture-Animal Plant Health and Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) banned the Philippine Mango for export due to stricter restrictions on minimal residual levels of hazardous chemicals and the presence of fruit flies and mango seed weevil of the Philippine variety. The Philippine Carabao Mango variety is known in international trade as the "Philippine Super Mango," Dela Fuente added.
The Dept. of Agriculture (DA) in Cebu reported that traditional crops give farmers a gross income of approximately P10-60 thousand per hectare per year while Mango farming gives them some P250-750 thousand per hectare per year and it is considered as a permanent crop that can live and be productive for more than a century.
George Paculba, Chief, Crops Division, DA-7 said, the Visayas accounts for 10-11% of total national Mango production with,Central Visayas producing about 58,342 metric tons of Mangoes in 2004 and it has great export potentials because 80-90% of dried Mangoes for export come from the Visayas and are mostly processed in Cebu, Paculba said.
According to a 2004 feasibility study by the Visayas Chamber of Mango Industry, 81% of the Mango growers in the Visayas and Mindanao areas are currently into export and majority of them are farmers/owners with an average of 1.5-2.5 hectares of land planted with Mango trees.
The study also revealed that there are 113 major Mango traders in Central Visayas with more than 9,615 hectares of land with 468,795 Mango bearing trees. However, the industry is not problem-free.
During the 5th National Mango Congress held in Cebu on November 25-27, 2003, these major problems were discussed and possible solutions were also given. Some of these include; occurrence of pests and diseases, high production cost and availability of inputs, difficulty in marketing and lack of capital for Mango processing and lack of government support.
But according to the VCMI chairperson, Virginia dela Fuente, the biggest setback of the country's Mango industry is the stringent restrictions imposed by Japan and the U.S specifically on the minimum residual levels of hazardous chemicals and the presence of the mango seed weevil that has the ability to survive vapor heat treatment.
Guimaras is lucky because it has been certified as "mango seed weevil free" after 15 years of strict quarantine practices and by using the VHT process through the establishment of an irradiation facility in their province.
Dela Fuente stressed that the U.S Dept of Agriculture approved on October 23, 2002 the use of the irradiation process as the best method of eliminating the threat posed by the Mango seed weevil and fruit fly. Irradiation lengthens the shelf or delays ripening of the treated fresh fruits and vegetables. This extended shelf life allows the mangoes to be shipped or transported to the U.S. or Japan and all other countries looking fresh and free from flies and bugs.
For almost five years now, the Visayas Chamber of Mango Industry has been struggling to establish this facility. "Hopefully, in 2006, we will be able to put up this facility through funding from the US-Dept. of Agriculture. We have completed the survey and the feasibility study and negotiations are underway for the approval of the protocols. The project would roughly cost more than P167.29-Million." Dela Fuente enthusiastically said.
According to the study, with the irradiation facility, the Mango industry in the Visayas area is expecting a net income of P26-Million after a year of operation, increasing it to P195-Million in the 5th year. The study also projected that by the end of the first year, the industry will have a total asset of P204.4-Million and it will have a positive ending cash balance of P47-Million in the first year, a payback period of 2.41 years and an internal rate of return of 70-80 percent.
"With this facility, it is expected that the Visayas Mango industry will improve its production, double its export income and provide livelihood to processors, traders, manufacturers and augment the Mango growers' income," Dela Fuente concluded. (PIA-Cebu) [top]