Sweet side of El Niño: 2M kilos of surplus mangoes
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture (DA) finds itself in a sweet bind.
It is faced with a surplus of 2 million kilos of mangoes from the recent harvest, which has brought prices down to the delight of consumers but to the detriment of growers.
“We have to do something about this over the next two weeks . . . If we’re able to absorb even just the produce in Luzon, the surplus will ease in other areas,” Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said.
Piñol said mango farmers had reported an “unusual increase” in harvest, which, he added, might be attributed to the El Niño phenomenon.
“The last time they had this kind of harvest was during the El Niño in 2016,” he said.
In the first quarter of the year, average farm-gate price of mango dropped 18 percent to P48.45 a kilo from a year ago.
P25 a kilo
The DA is offering to sell the fruits at much lower prices—at P25 a kilo. But there’s a catch: the buyer must order in bulk—at least 4 metric tons (MT).
For export-grade mangoes, a kilo sells for P50 for every 4 MT.
Aside from lowering prices, the department wants to link farmers with shipping companies to increase the number of shipments to Hong Kong, which is currently twice a week. Hong Kong is the country’s biggest market for mangoes, according to Piñol.
The country is also exporting mangoes to Dubai at 2 MT daily.
Mango processors in the Philippines have agreed to ramp up purchases. Some are offering to provide storage facilities for the excess harvest.
“Another reason for the huge excess in domestic supply of mangoes is the decision of Cebu-based Pro Food International Corp. to cut back on its purchase of local mangoes for its operations. The company, founded and owned by Justin Uy, is one of the biggest dried-mango processors in the country.”
Pro Food used to buy 500 MT of mangoes daily, but this has sharply declined to a mere 20 MT a week.
“He [Uy] is hurting the mango industry and his excuse is that local mangoes are expensive. But when we checked the cost for imported mangoes, it’s almost the same as the local ones at P20 a kilo,” Piñol said.
He said the DA would check whether Uy’s company was labeling its dried mango products as coming from the Philippines, even when it started buying raw materials from Cambodia and Thailand.
The department has advised fruit growers to alert it once they expect a bumper harvest to give the agency enough time to prepare measures that could absorb any excess supply.
Over the long term, the DA will extend loans to farmers to enable them to establish processing facilities at the community level given the huge demand for processed mangoes.
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