NorthCot is Region 12’s mango country

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/22 December)—North Cotabato is Southwestern Mindanao or SOCCSKSARGEN Region’s top mango producer, Department of Agriculture (DA) officials said.

Ellen Lantican, a staff of the regional DA’s High Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP), said that North Cotabato has 451,250 fruit-bearing mango trees followed by Sarangani with 197,285, South Cotabato with 189,000 and Sultan Kudarat with 82,000.

Citing data from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS), North Cotabato produced last year 28,528 metric tons (MT) of mango, she said.

Although Sarangani was second in terms of fruit-bearing trees, its production was ranked third at 4,917 MT, next to South Cotabato’s 16,620 MT. Sultan Kudarat’s production volume reached only 2,269 MT, BAS data showed.

Amalia Jayag-Datukan, DA-12 executive director, said that SOCCSKSARGEN Region ranked sixth nationwide in mango production in 2011, with a total production of 52, 334 MT.

At this volume, Datukan added that the region contributes 6.6 percent to the national mango production, and 24 percent to Mindanao’s production.

Mango is one of the export commodities of the Philippines.

Recently, the DA-12, through the HVCDP, gathered mango producers in the region to thresh out issues confronting the industry.

Among these prevailing issues were inactive municipal and regional mango producers’ associations and low farm incomes because of high cost of inputs and excessive use of pesticides and fertilizers at farm levels.

Insufficient production equipment, the presence of middlemen and absence of laboratories in the region that would serve industry testing needs were also noted during the meeting attended by at least 15 mango stakeholders, who are mostly grower-producers, contractors, traders and academic researchers.

After the discussions, the group formulated initial resolutions and recommendations such as the provision of assistance on soil and leaf analysis for more efficient use of fertilizers; promotion for cost efficient production technologies during trainings; and activation of local mango associations to do the consolidation for direct supply to institutional markets.

The group also suggested the establishment and/or upgrading of existing DA laboratories to do micro soil analysis, leaf analysis, pesticide analysis and the provision of processing equipment by the DA and the local government units.

Lantican said the DA has programs to strengthen the mango industry, and that mango growers’ association in the region can avail of 16 power sprayers and flower inducers equipment from the regional office.

Rex Rivera, one of the mango grower-producers and an advocate of organic farming, said it is important for mango farmers to organize into associations for them to have a stronger linkage with assemblers, traders and exporters. (MindaNews)