• Philippines eyes more mango, banana exports to US

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    The Department of Agriculture (DA) is exploring more export opportunities in the United States for locally grown banana and mango, which should be good news for Philippine fruit growers.

    The DA is negotiating for the entry of these products to other markets in the United States including Guam, Northern Mariana Islands and Hawaii.

    Clarito Barron, director of the DA’s Bureau of Plant Industry (DA-BPI), said prospects are bright for higher exports of Cavendish bananas from Mindanao and mangoes from various parts of the country as Manila intensifies its lobby for these products to be allowed into other US markets.

    “This will definitely lead to an increase in the country’s revenue and therefore boost our banana industry,” Barron said in a statement.

    The Philippines’ first commercial shipment of bananas to Continental US landed in San Diego, California on August 20, 2013. A total of 486 cartons (6.561 MT) of highland Cavendish Dole Sweet bananas sourced from Bukidnon comprised the maiden shipment.

    Barron said that with the help of the BPI’s Plant Quarantine Services (PQS), the creation of market opportunities through bilateral relations with importing and exporting countries and the conduct of pest risk analyses have been successfully facilitated.

    He said that being declared as Freedom Area for Mango Pulp and Seed Weevil by the US Government through the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) on February 8, 2013 was a good development, as this gives the Philippines the privilege to source mangoes from anywhere in the country except Palawan if they are intended for the US market.

    Mango pulp weevil (MPW) and mango seed weevil (MSW) are pests that attack the pulp and seed of the mango fruit, respectively, rendering it inedible.

    “This would entice other countries to import our mango,” Barron said, citing a bigger export opportunity in the Australian market.

    A special protocol allowing for the importation to Australia of fresh mango fruit from the Philippines was officially signed at the Philippines Australia Agriculture Forum held in Canberra, Australia on July 9, 2013.

    Mangoes from Guimaras and Samal Islands, as well as Davao del Sur entered the Australian market on June 8, 2013. There were six shipments from June 8 to July 10, 2013 to Melbourne and Adelaide, with a total volume of 4.76 metric tons (MT) valued at $14,587.

    “This signals the acceptance of the Australian government of the country’s mango not only sourced from the Island of Guimaras but from other areas as well, as a result of regular bilateral talks with the Australian government,” Barron said.

    Before being declared MPW- and MSW-free, the DA-BPI conducted a nationwide low monitoring survey for MPW and MSW in different areas in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

    The survey was done in 15 regions and 50 mango-growing provinces. Six regions and 20 provinces were surveyed in Luzon; three regions and 10 provinces in the Visayas, and six regions and 20 provinces in Mindanao.

    The BPI Plant Quarantine Services is closely monitoring several areas nationwide based on their proximity to weevil-infested areas and the intensity of movement of agricultural commodities and sea and air travellers. These areas include Batangas, Quezon, Oriental Mindoro, Occidental Mindoro, Northern Palawan, Aklan, Antique, Guimaras, Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Cebu, Zamboanga City, Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga del Norte, Misamis Oriental, North Cotabato, Soccsksargen, Maguindanao, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-tawi.

    Because of the DA-BPI’s commitment to the eradication of the said pests, out of 104,155 trees and 1,040,100 fruits targeted for sampling and collection, a total of 101,971 trees were sampled and 1,009,123 fruits were collected and dissected resulting in a 96.85 percent accomplishment for trees and 96.89 percent accomplishment for fruits for the year 2013.

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