KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews / 8 November) — The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) is pushing the propagation of high-value fruits, particularly hass avocado, in the deforested highlands of the island, with the crop’s huge potential in the Chinese market and to offset some of the government’s failed reforestation programs, MinDA Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said.
So far, only Dole Philippines, Inc. (Dolefil) is exporting the crop to China, and Piñol dangled to the company a growership program in line with MinDA’s environmental farming program which it plans to introduce in cool and high elevation areas in the southern Philippines.
“I crafted the environmental farming concept as a solution to the failed and expensive reforestation programs of the government in the deforested highlands of Mindanao. It is a farming concept which promotes greater productivity among the farmers in the countryside while at the same time protects the environment by encouraging them to plant fruit trees,” Piñol, Duterte’s first Agriculture Secretary from 2016 to 2018, said in a statement on Thursday.
Piñol recently led a team that inspected four hass avocado seedlings planted two years ago at an elevation of about 1,450 meters above sea level in Talakag, Bukidnon, which is part of the crop experimentation of Dolefil in cool and high-elevated areas in Mindanao.
Except for one that is shaded, the three others were fruiting profusely at just over two years old, even with very little care and fertilization, and had been bearing fruits all year round, Piñol said.
Hass is the most popular Avocado variety mainly because of its taste and long shelf life, making it a potential major dollar earner for Mindanao, Piñol said.
Dolefil, which has been growing hass avocado in the provinces of South Cotabato and Bukidnon and in Davao City since 2006, was issued export clearance by the General Administration of Customs of China in November 2019.
Last March, the firm sent its first shipment of 7,656 tons of hass avocados from the port of Davao to Shanghai, China.
Rodel Narvaez, Dolefil manager for diversified and select products, said he will endorse the proposed growership program for hass avocado to the firm’s directors.
According to him, the company, which was acquired by Japanese trading giant Itucho Corp., is not new to growership since they have applied it to their solo papaya production.
Under Piñol’s proposed growership program, Dolefil shall provide the technical assistance and hass avocado planting materials to farmer-growers who will be asked to sign a marketing agreement with the company.
On the other hand, MinDA will seek the support of the Development Bank of the Philippines to provide loan packages to hass avocado growers, Piñol said.
He noted that besides gaining market access in China, Dolefil is also working to export hass avocado to Japan and South Korea.
Piñol said that hass avocado “would be a perfect crop for the high elevation logged over areas in Bukidnon, Lanao del Sur, Misamis Oriental and Davao Del Norte.”
Besides hass avocado, Piñol said they will also include mangosteen and the Abuyog Sweet Jackfruit, which was developed by the Department of Agriculture in the East Visayas Agricultural Research Center, in MinDA’s Environmental Farming Program. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)