Mango growers told to cut back on chemical use

Reynaldo Legaste, South Cotabato agriculture office chief, said their studies showed that the practice of local mango producers to spray chemicals even a week before harvests have increased the presence of chemical residues to their produce.

"The international market, especially Japan, is very strict with these requirements. What they require are products that are chemical-free or those that have passed the standard level of residues," he said.

According to Japan's External Trade Organization, the uniform standard for chemical residues in imported fruit products is only .01ppm (parts per million). The agency said it turns back products that exceed such standards.

Legaste said that last year, a shipment of mango products from an area near the province were sent back by Japan after it failed to meet its standards for the presence of chemical residues.

Although the products did not come from the province, he said it created a problem for local mango producers as well.

Owing to this, Legaste urged local mango farmers and producers to consolidate their ranks and set their own production practices following the internationally-accepted standards.

"They should be one in following all the standard production regulations and ensure that they produce the best quality so they can get a good market," he said.

Legaste said their office will provide assistance to local mango producers and farmers in terms of familiarization and improving their technical capability on Good Agricultural Practices.

Legaste earlier said the local government of South Cotabato is planning to open at least 2,500 hectares of fruit plantations, including mango, in various parts of the province within the next three years as part of its effort to help build up the province's fruit industry.

He said they have so far helped develop 4,000 hectares of mango plantations, 2,000 hectares for durian, and 1,500 hectares for various fruit-trees, such as rambutan, lanzones, avocado and pomelo.

The provincial government earlier identified municipalities traversed by the Roxas mountain range as primary target areas for the development of the mango plantations.

They also tapped several areas of Barangay Ned in Lake Sebu town, which was earlier identified among the viable agribusiness areas in the province. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)