THE Department of Agriculture (DA) over the weekend announced that a trial shipment of carabao mangoes was flown to Dubai, United Arab Emirates on November 29 under the supervision of the DA 12’s Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Division (AMAD).
Amalia Jayag-Datukan, regional executive director of SOCCSKSARGEN (South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos), said the shipment is the fruit of the region’s participation in a trade fair in Dubai, which opened opportunities for mango growers.
“Bringing local farmer groups to trade fairs encourage them to become agri-entrepreneurs,” Datukan said, adding that SOCCSKSARGEN joined the Middle East Natural and Organic Products Expo (MENOPE) in Dubai in the first week of November.
MENOPE showcased a wide range of organically grown products including food, beverages and beauty products among others.
The mangoes shipped were from Rickson Olimpus of Tulunan Town in North Cotabato and other members of the Region 12 Mango Industry Development Council.
The DA said that it has beefed up measures and support to enable local mango producers to grow high quality fruits that would conform to international standards.
“There is a great demand for mangoes from the international market and DA has been consistently receiving invitations from other countries on how to bring Philippine mangoes to their shores,” DA Assistant Secretary Orlan Calayag said.
In fact, Calayag said they are now talking with Vietnam, Indonesia and other Middle Eastern countries to open their markets to Philippine mangoes.
Philippine mango, which is hailed as the sweetest and most luscious in the world, is the third most important fruit crop in the country based on export volume and value and is one of the country’s 20 major high-value crops.
In 2014, Manila exported more than 11.2 metric tons of fresh mangoes worth more than $16.2 million compared to 7.9 MT of mangoes valued at $13.29 million in 2013.
Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said the government is giving attention to the food safety component in mango production and utilization to make it at par with international safety standards.
Alcala said that the recently signed implementing rules and regulations of RA 10611, or the Food Safety Act, will help the government strengthen the country’s food safety regulatory system, which will pave the way for agricultural products to penetrate local and foreign markets.
“It is not enough to just set the proper mechanisms to control food hazards that might be brought about by globalization of food trade. It is everyone’s responsibility to follow those,” he said.
The DA chief also stressed the importance of following good agricultural practices or GAP as part of the implementation of Asean economic integration.
“With the free flow of goods, everyone must be vigilant and alert in monitoring the exit of fresh mango and mango products from the country,” he said.
He also said that quarantine support must be strengthened to check insecticide and chemical residue level and mango producers are encouraged to comply with the Asean GAP. The Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries recommends the mandatory certification of mango farms in compliance with the standards.
Alcala said that the DA continues to invest in research and development, farmers’ training, and technical and infrastructure support, as well as strengthening the supply chain by participating in local and international trade shows to establish linkages and empower farmers and stakeholders to enter local and foreign markets.
“The government also continues to strengthen partnership between public and private sectors,” said Alcala.