Infestation threatens PH’s mango production

Published February 22, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Madelaine M. Miraflor

Infestation is threatening the country’s mango production, prompting Agriculture Secretary William Dar to order his agency to come up with a science-based solution that would ensure the commodity’s sustainable production.

During his meeting with some mango growers, Dar assured that the Department of Agriculture (DA) is “bent on helping” them to address the infestation by cecid fly, known locally as “kurikong”.

“Together, let us harness the power of science and technology to pro-actively get rid of ‘kurikong’ and other major concerns confronting our mango industry,” Dar said.

United Luzon Mango Stakeholders Association (ULMSA) President Ricardo Tolentino said that many growers have already shifted to other crops because of the damage caused by cecid fly, a mosquito-like insect that lays eggs on the fruit surface and young mango leaves.

Its larva bores into the fruit and feeds on it, causing holes on the fruit.
Kurikong infestation was first recorded in the Philippines in 1987 and has spread nationwide in 2010, according to Department of Science and Technology’s (DOST) Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD).

The infestation can result in 70 percent to 100 percent loss in yield, which would leave farmers and growers with almost zero income.

Total area planted to mango as of 2018 stood at 185,900 hectares nationwide, according to data from Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

Last year, the country produced 737,938 metric tons (MT) of mangoes valued at ₱24 billion. From October to December alone, the commodity was estimated at 27.78 thousand MT, slightly growing by 0.6 percent from last year’s level of 27.62 thousand MT.

Of last year’s total output, Luzon contributed 45 percent of the production at 334,581 MT.

Meanwhile, exports of fresh and dried mangoes amounted to $17.88 million from January to November 2019, 4 percent more than in 2018.

With the threats of “kurikong”, Dar urged the mango industry stakeholders and concerned DA agencies to enhance the protocol on the Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) on mango production, making use of the latest agronomy and integrated pest management practices.

He also directed DA Undersecretary for High Value Crops Evelyn Laviña to work with the DA’s Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) in applying the results of research and development initiatives to immediately address the “kurikong” infestation.

“Finalize the ideas immediately and start the project in two weeks,” he told Lavina.

Likewise, he instructed the DA’s Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) to conduct a massive education and training campaign that will highlight mango production protocols, including mainstreaming the inclusive agribusiness approach for mango growers.

“Together, let us save the Philippine mango industry, and maintain our distinction of producing the ‘sweetest mango’ in the world,” noted the DA chief.

For his part, Tolentino asked other mango growers, processors, traders, and other industry players, to unite with concerned DA agencies in the fight against ‘kurikong’ and save the country’s mango industry.

In June last year, the country saw an oversupply of mango, dampening the prices and affecting growers.

Then Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said there was a surplus of as much as 2 million kilograms of mango following the long dry spell caused by El Niño, which precipitated profuse flowering and fruiting that particular harvest season.