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CECID FLIES

Luzon mango production falls by 70 percent

/ 05:10 AM March 17, 2018

STA. BARBARA, PANGASINAN—Unless cecid flies were wiped out soon, mango production in all of Luzon would continue to plummet and the industry headed for collapse, a mango industry leader in Pangasinan province said on Friday.

Mango production this season had dropped by at least 70 percent because of widespread infestation of cecid flies, leading to huge losses for mango growers and contractors, said Lito Arenas, former president of the Federation of Mango Growers and Handlers Association of Pangasinan.

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Cecid flies lay eggs on the fruit surface and young mango leaves. Their larvae burrow into and consume mango fruits. Young fruits fall while mature ones acquire black circular marks, which were unattractive to consumers. The marks are why growers call the pest “kurikong.”

No solution in sight

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With no solution in sight, Arenas said the flies had invaded more provinces. He said 10 percent of mango trees had been attacked by the flies in Ilocos Norte province, which has not been plagued by the pest since 2013.

He said the mango-producing provinces of Zambales, Tarlac, Pampanga, Bataan and Nueva Ecija had also been affected.

In 2016, the Ilocos region, the country’s top mango producer, supplied 26 percent of the country’s total mango production, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed. It was followed by Zamboanga Peninsula, which contributed 14 percent; Central Visayas, 7.4 percent; and Central Luzon, 7.2 percent.

Higher prices

Arenas said consumers should expect higher prices of mangoes.

As of March 13, prices of ripe mangoes ranged from P100 to P200 a kilogram in Luzon, P120 to P140 in the Visayas and P100 to P130 in Mindanao, according to PSA’s price report on selected agricultural commodities.

Arenas said mangoes that were going to be processed into dried fruits now cost more than P50 a kg.

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“This is still hard for processors like me because we cannot compete with other countries. We have more expensive raw materials here compared to other countries,” he said.

No PH mangoes

Last week, he and other mango growers from the Ilocos region visited Guangzhou City in China and were surprised there were no Philippine mangoes being sold there. “What we saw there were mangoes from Thailand,” Arenas said.

Despite the losses and uncertainty of the mango industry, Arenas said they would continue to “gamble.” “We will keep on inducing our trees to bear fruits, hoping for harvest during the mango season [January to May],” he said. —GABRIEL CARDINOZA

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TAGS: cecid flies, mango production, Pangasinan province
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