In the past several years, mango growers in Southern Mindanao have been losing their shirts, so to speak. While the prices of inputs like fertilizers and crop protection chemicals have continually become more expensive, the price that they get for their harvest has been erratic and mostly below production cost.
As a result, many of the mango farmers had been cutting down their trees because the price per kilo had gone down to as low as P5 per kilo. There was no way the farmers could make a profit at this price level.
That situation worried Emmanuel ‘Manny’ Bartocillo no end. He himself is a mango grower, trader and processor. Most of their mango trees are 20 to 25 years old and they are in their very productive years if they are properly taken care of. That prompted him to think of ways to save the mango industry in Region 12 which consists of the four provinces of South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Sarangani and Sultan Kudarat, plus the two cities of General Santos and Cotabato. The area planted to mango in the region is 17,400 hectares with about 779,000 trees.
What did Manny Bartocillo do? He spearheaded the formation of the Region 12 Mango Industry Development Council (MIDC) of which he was the founding president and holds the position to the present. Among others, the strategy is to teach the mango growers the improved techniques of production to increase their yields as well as to cut their expenses.
Mango growers were formed into clusters in the four provinces and two cities. There were three clusters in South Cotabato, for instance. The same with North Cotabato and the other areas. Why the clusters? Well, that simplifies the transfer of technologies, production strategies and coordination of activities. One activity is the training on good agricultural practices. Another is value-adding to increase incomes. Development of business entrepreneurship is another important program of the MIDC.
In orchard management, the mango owners are taught proper pruning, fertilization, spraying against pests and diseases, irrigation and the like. By adopting the good agricultural practices, the farmers can produce higher yield of good quality fruits at a lower cost.
Another campaign being emphasized is the schedule of fruiting so that the harvest in Mindanao will not coincide with the peak season in Luzon which is April to early June. One reason why prices in the past had gone down to unprofitable levels was because the harvest in Mindanao coincided with the Luzon harvest. The only beneficiaries have been the mango processors because they could buy their requirements at a low price.
They have proven that by timing their production when it is off-season in Luzon, the mango owners in Mindanao can get a profitable price. One example that Bartocillo cited is the case of Lito Garcia of Valentine’s Farm in Malanday, Malungon, Sarangani province. Last October, he was able to harvest 35 tons from his 300 trees that are 15 to 20 years old. Because it is off-season, he was able to sell his harvest at P50 per kilo. That was a very profitable crop.
Another fellow that Manny Bartocillo cited was a Mr. Hassan of San Jose, General Santos City. From September to last October 15, he was able to harvest 110 tons from 500 trees. Of course, he was also able to get a high price.
So you see, there’s a way to get a profitable price. One possible way is to apply Paclobutrazol in the soil at the right time. This chemical hastens the maturity of the leaves so that the tree can be ready for flower induction at the desired time.
VILLAGE LELVEL PROCESSING – The MIDC is currently disseminating practical technologies developed by experts of the Sultan Kudarat Polytechnic University. One of them is how to make mango ketchup which can be a multi-purpose sauce. It can be a very good lechon sauce, for instance. Another is how to make mango puree which can be subsequently made into ready-to-drink mango juice.
What’s good about making mango sauce is that even the rejects can be used as raw material. Bartocillo himself makes his own Manny Mango Sauce. He says that three kilos of fruits will produce 12 bottles of 350 ml each. Each bottle sells for P70. That’s P840 worth of sauce from three kilos of mango. There’s a lot of value added here.
MIDC is also encouraging the production of mango puree using the technique developed by the SKPU experts. The puree is subsequently made into mango juice that is ready to drink which is now being sold in school campuses at P15 per 350 ml bottle. The manjo juice takes the place of soft drinks which are now banned in schools.
Overall, the mango industry in Region 12 is perking up, thanks to the efforts of the MIDC headed by Manny Bartocillo. We are sure that Manny who attended the recent national mango congress in Cebu was able to pick up improved techniques in mango production from the resource persons and other attendees that he can disseminate to mango farmers in Mindanao.