RICARDO TOLENTINO, the country’s acknowledged Mango King, has hit the jackpot this year. Why? Because he has about the biggest production this year and the price is high. He is currently getting a farmgate price of P70 per kilo for the export quality fruits, most of them going to Korea. We met Carding (that’s his nickname) in Laoag City during our coverage of agricultural developments in Ilocos Norte (Feb. 27-March 1, 2015).
The other big mango growers did not spray their trees for one reason or another. It could be that they did not have the money to induce their trees to flower. Or they were discouraged by the losses they had last year because of the very low price in May 2014. Tolentino said that at that time, buyers were buying at as low as P5 per kilo due to the glut in the supply. The mangoes in Mindanao, Visayas and Luzon bore fruit at the same time, hence the oversupply.
It takes a big amount to induce the mango trees to bear fruit. Aside from the flower inducer, the flowers and the developing fruits have to be protected from fungal infection as well as from destructive pests like the cecid fly and the fruitfly. The trees also have to be adequately fertilized. According to Tolentino, it costs about P3,000 to make one tree productive.
Given the right care, a 25-year-old mango tree, according to Carding, can yield 500 kilos. Thus, at P70 per kilo, the 500 kilos would be worth P35,000. Even if the average price is just half (P35 per kilo), the profit from each tree would still be substantial.
The most adversely affected due to the short supply of fruits this season are the fruit processors because of the high price. At this time, the going price of processing grade fruits is P40 pet kilo. At that price, the mango juice makers will lose money.
Tolentino has nine farms of his own, some of the trees as old as 25 years. Aside from his own trees, he has contracted other mango farms not only in Ilocos Norte but in other provinces like Cagayan, Ifugao and Isabela.
Carding is an expert in managing mango trees. He is the only mango grower whose farm is certified as complying with Good Agricultural Practices (GAP)