Climate change emerges as key issue in mango gab

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/05 October) — Climate change adaptation must be given serious consideration if the country wants to bolster the competitiveness of its mango industry in the global market, with Mindanao cited as a potential major producer due to its “favorable year-round weather.”

This in a gist was among the key points that emerged in the 13th National Mango Congress, themed “Positioning the Philippine Mango Strongly in the World Market,” held last week in the town of Glan in Sarangani.

Virginia  dela Fuente, president of the Philippine Mango Industry Foundation, Inc., said that mango producers should adapt to climate change for the country to become a stronger player in the global mango market.

She vowed to promote Mindanao as a mango production hub not only because of its “good climate condition” but also because of the islands’ vast undeveloped and fertile lands.

Mindanao has been relatively known as typhoon-free over the years although flooding in recent years has become a growing concern.

Dela Fuente said the island has great potentials for mango production, citing as example the mango farms in the South Cotabato-Sultan Kudarat-Sarangani-General Santos City (SOCSKSARGEN) area, even if the effects of climate change have been felt.

“I will campaign that mango production will be centered in Mindanao. It produces only 35% of the total national production but it has the potential,” she said.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said the agency has programs in support of the growth of the mango industry, which includes the establishment and rehabilitation of nurseries and foundation scion grove, household and village processing assistance and crop improvement especially for climate change adaptability.

Alcala, the congress keynote speaker, claimed that foreign demand for Philippine mangoes was “huge,” thus he challenged farmers to plant more mangoes to supply the market.

Last year, fresh mango exports reached 20,115 tons worth US$15.2 million. The country also exported dried and processed mangoes at 3,600 tons and 9,328 tons, respectively. The combined exports of fresh, dried, and processed mangoes last year earned at least $50 million, DA data showed.

Alcala reported a seven-percent growth in the annual production of mangoes in 2010, which was reportedly “prompted by the continuous flower induction in Central Luzon, CALABARZON, Bicol Region and all the Visayas regions.”

However, a decline of 5.3 percent during the early months this year was noted, which the secretary attributed to the early rainy season which may have been triggered by climate change.

The major mango producers in the country are Ilocos Region, Zamboanga Peninsula, Central Visayas, Central Luzon, and SOCSKSARGEN. (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)