THE Department of Agriculture (DA) expects to conclude within this year a bilateral trade agreement with the United States that allows the entry of more Philippine mango varieties into the US market. That should be a welcome development for the country’s mango growers.
“At present, the US only allows the entry of mangoes coming from Guimaras Island.
With the new agreement, we expect them to allow more varieties from all over the Philippines, except Palawan,” Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala told reporters.
Alcala said that an accreditation team from Washington would be coming to Manila to review the protocol and work plan, as well as the sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) compliance of Philippine mango varieties.
“Our target is not only the mainland US but also the US military bases and commissaries, which are closer to us. At the end of the day, we only export to where we are more competitive,” he added.
The US Department of Agriculture, through the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (Aphis), earlier pushed for the amendment of the list of areas in the Philippines that can export mangoes to the US.
Guimaras is currently the only mango-producing area in the country that US authorities recognize as free of pests. Thus, mangoes from Guimaras may be sold anywhere in US territories.
For mangoes from most other parts of the Philippines, these must be treated by irradiation at a certain dose and, once certified, may be shipped only to Hawaii and Guam.
Mangoes from Palawan—which were cited as infested with mango seed weevil—may not be sold anywhere in the US.
The DA chief admitted that they are still working on a more detailed work program for the production of Philippine mangoes, noting that there is not enough supply to meet demand both locally and abroad.
“Right now, our mango production is still not enough to meet the demand of our food processors, which are very efficient in producing mango-based products,” Alcala said.
“But despite this fact, it will be a good thing for the Philippines to have a badge of approval from the US so we can export whereever we are more competitive,” he added.
Meanwhile, Alcala said that they are discussing with the USDA for a possible expansion of banana exports to continental US as well as to American military bases in the Pacific and the Middle East.
“For bananas, we are expecting continued expansion in shipments because we are competitive in that part,” he said.