Mango growers can’t stop flies

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DAGUPAN CITY— Mango growers are losing the war against cecid flies, threatening to bring down to its knees a profitable industry in Pangasinan.

Cecid flies leave circular black marks on the skin of mangoes, making them unattractive and unmarketable.

Patricio Evangelista, president of the Federation of Mango Growers and Handlers Association of Pangasinan Inc., said mango trees in all towns of the province had been afflicted for the first time with “kurikong,” a damage caused by cecid flies.

“This year, our estimate is that we lost about 70 to 80 percent because of kurikong,” Evangelista said. Because of this, he said, the province could no longer claim to be the country’s top mango producer.

Pangasinan is one of the country’s leading mango producers, supplying at least 40 percent of the total production, records from the Department of Agriculture showed. Last year, it produced more than 120,000 metric tons of mangoes.

Violeta Laforteza, high-value crop development coordinator of the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist, confirmed the infestation but said her office was still gathering data to quantify the extent of the damage.

“We have tried everything. We have used different insecticides, but the flies are still there,” Evangelista said.

Lately, he said, some mango growers tried to smoke out the insects by burning dry grasses or hay at night under the trees. “But with the volume [of trees] and the law prohibiting burning, it’s not practical,” he said.

A distraught mango grower even thought of chopping down his trees because these are no longer productive, Evangelista said.

Several growers in San Carlos City already incurred big losses three weeks ago, its mayor, Julier Resuello, said.

“A barangay captain had told me that he lost about 3,000 kaing (big basket) in his mango farm because of kurikong,” Resuello said.

Evangelista said that from his expected harvest of 1,000 kaing, he only got five, and these were not even quality fruits. “They had spots,” he said.

Evangelista has been meeting with mango growers in the province to find a solution to the infestation. Gabriel Cardinoza, Inquirer Northern Luzon

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