Davao mango producers battle with rain

Ednar Carlos Dayanghirang, chair of the Davao Region Mango Contractors Association (DAREMCA), said that rains over the past three years reduced their harvest and at the same time increased production expenses. "We lost about 80 percent (of yield) because of the rains, although in the second half it's gotten better," he said.

Dayanghirang said the umbrella will be patterned after the ones used for banana, with transparent plastic attached to four bamboo poles surrounding the mango tree.

Dole, the multinational fruit company, has already constructed roofing for its mango plantation in the Island Garden City of Samal. While it shielded the mango trees from the rain, it also blocked the much needed sunlight, Dayanghirang pointed out. Dole reportedly revised the roof so it can be taken off when there are no rains.

He pointed out, though, that the 40 member contractors in their group could not afford Dole's method so they have to find cheaper ways.

When the mango trees start to flower, these need about 35 days of no rain so the chemicals used would not be washed out. Furthermore, the rains worsen the incidence of cecid fly or capsid fly, commonly known as nora-nora or blackspots, which renders the mango unmarketable.

Emmanuel Montañez, a mango contractor and treasurer of DAREMCA, said that because of the rains and the continually increasing cost of inputs, they were forced to change the profit sharing scheme with the mango tree owners.

"Before, the sharing was one-third to the owner and two-thirds to the contractor. But we changed that to 30 percent for the owner and 70 percent to the contractor," he said.

Lately, the sharing was adjusted again to 25-75 in favor of the contractors, Dayanghirang said. But now, contractors practically manage the farm, shouldering the whole expenses from the weeding to the spraying to harvesting. The owner thus does nothing but just wait for his share, he said.

Aside from bad weather conditions, the price of imported inputs reportedly increased production expense by 30 percent over the past two years. A plant growth regulator, for instance, now costs P5,500 from the P4,000 per liter in 2003.

Dayanghirang said the issues confronting mango contractors would be discussed during the Third Mango Marketing Conference on Aug. 15-16 at the NCCC Exhibition Center. The conference is being organized by the DAREMCA; Southern Mango Industry Development Council (SMMIDC); and the Mindanao Fruit Industry Development Council.

The biggest mango plantation in the region belongs to the Cojuangcos, who have a 1,000-hectare plantation in Guihing, Davao del Sur with 98,000 trees. This is followed by Sudaco of the Consunjis with 60,000 trees in Malungon, Sarangani.

According to the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS), the Davao region has 80,000 hectares planted to mango as of 2004. The yield for that year reached 32,000 metric tons. (MindaNews)